How Do You Know if You Have Gout in Your Knee? | IMPACT Physical Therapy

How to Know If You Have Gout in Your Knee

knee with image of bones and red accents for pain

What is gout? Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis, caused when the body’s immune system attacks the tissues of joints instead of viruses and other foreign substances. If you’re experiencing redness and swelling in your knee that comes on suddenly, you may be dealing with gout. Learn more below about what gout looks like, how you get gout, and what you can do to reduce your symptoms and begin the healing process.

What Does Gout Look Like?

Gout is more common in the fingers and toes, but it can also show up first in the knee joints. What does gout look like if you have it in your knee? It’s a good idea to visit your doctor for an evaluation if you have the following symptoms:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Skin that is hot to the touch
  • Tenderness or pain when you touch the area or move the joint
  • Sudden onset of symptoms that often begin in the morning and peak within 24 hours 

Note that the above symptoms can also indicate an infection, so you should visit a medical professional promptly to rule out this possibility. Gout in the knee joint is typically diagnosed after an inspection, blood tests to determine urate levels, and an assessment of your family history and risk factors. A sample of fluid from the affected joint can also be inspected for urate crystals.

How Do You Get Gout?

Although most people associate it with diet alone, how you get gout is usually more complicated than that. Gout in knee joints or other soft tissue is actually caused by too much uric acid in the blood plasma. Excess uric acid accumulates in the form of tiny monosodium urate crystals on the soft tissue lining of joints. When the joint moves, the crystals rub against the tissues and cause inflammation.

There are a number of risk factors for high uric acid levels aside from diet, including:

  • Excessive beer and alcohol
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of medication
  • A family history of gout

How do you get gout through diet, and what foods should you avoid to lower your risk? Eating foods high in purines is known to raise uric acid levels. Your physician may recommend avoiding high-purine foods such as organ meats, bacon, turkey, veal, venison, and some fish, seafood, and shellfish.

Treating Gout in the Knee Joints

The prevalence of gout—in knee joints, fingers, toes, and other soft tissues—has surged in the last two decades, especially among younger people. However, more treatment options exist than ever before, and a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and lifestyle changes is effective for most people. Severe cases may require aspiration to remove fluid from the joint tissue or a steroid injection to reduce swelling.

Your physician may recommend that you take action on your own to reduce the symptoms of gout in your knee joint tissue by:

  • Building strength and balance to support joints with physical therapy
  • Attaining a healthy weight without crash dieting
  • Eating a diet designed to reduce inflammatory arthritis pain 
  • Hydrating and limiting alcohol
  • Exercising on a regular basis
  • Not smoking
  • Taking anti-inflammatory supplements such as vitamin C
  • Reducing inflammation with physical therapy treatment
  • Improving and maintaining range of motion with physical therapy exercises

What Are the Benefits of Physical Therapy for Gout?

Physical therapy is helpful for gout in several ways. First, treatments performed by a physical therapist can reduce inflammation and pain. These options include: 

  • Ice and/or heat therapy to soothe symptoms.

Once inflammation and pain are under control, physical therapy exercises, stretches, and manual treatments can be employed to rebuild strength and flexibility. These include:

  • Massage therapy to boost blood flow to the area and encourage healing.
  • Therapeutic mobility exercises such as swimming or riding a stationary bike to maintain a healthy weight and avoid excessive weight-bearing force on the joints.

Start Recovering From Gout in Knee Joints with Physical Therapy

After you’ve been diagnosed by a physician and determined how you got gout, physical therapy may be able to reduce your symptoms and promote faster healing! Request an appointment or virtual visit to learn more today, or book an appointment at one of our locations in Chicagoland or Champaign-Urbana for gout in your knee joints. A licensed physical therapist will design an arthritis pain treatment plan to help you get back to your favorite activities sooner.