As nurses working in rheumatology, we encounter patients with gout on a regular basis. I find more often that patients are embarrassed or ashamed to discuss their condition, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. As healthcare professionals, it’s important for us to educate ourselves about gout and empower our patients to seek the care they need without feeling stigmatized or embarrassed, especially considering that gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the body and forms crystals in the joints. The symptoms of gout can be debilitating, with patients experiencing sudden and severe pain, redness, and swelling in their joints. The condition most commonly affects the big toe, but can also impact other joints in the body such as the ankle, knee, elbow, and wrist.
During one visit, I had a patient who was hesitant to talk about their gout symptoms. He felt embarrassed and thought that his symptoms were a result of his diet and lifestyle choices. While these choices can certainly lead to flair ups, it wasn’t the cause of his disease. As we talked more about his symptoms and medical history, I was able to reassure him that gout is a medical condition that can affect anyone, regardless of his diet or lifestyle. By taking a non-judgmental and empathetic approach, I was able to help my patient feel more comfortable discussing their symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment when flare ups occur.
As nurses, we have a unique opportunity to educate our patients about gout and break down the stigma surrounding this condition. By educating ourselves about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for gout, we can provide our patients with the information and support they need to manage their condition effectively.
Here are some key points to convey to patients when working with a diagnosis or treatment of gout:
- Gout is a medical condition that is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. It is not a result of poor diet or lifestyle choices.
- The symptoms of gout can be severe and debilitating, but with proper treatment, patients can achieve relief and prevent complications.
- Treatment for gout may include medications to manage pain and inflammation, but lifestyle changes such as weight loss and a low-purine diet can help reduce flares.
- Encourage patients to seek care for their symptoms and provide them with the information and resources they need to manage their condition effectively.
By taking a compassionate and informed approach to caring for our patients with gout, we can help them achieve optimal health outcomes and live their lives to the fullest. In order to help you confidently handle common but challenging questions your patients may have, the RNS has created a resource “Handling the Hard Questions: What Our Patients Are Asking Us About Gout.” Let’s work together to eliminate the stigma and empower our patients to take control of their health!
This post is sponsored by
in support of the Rheumatology Nurses Society.
Written by Joni Fontenot, RN
Chapter Development Chair
Ochsner Health System-The Grove-Infusion/Rheumatology Infusion
Baton Rouge, LA
Joni Fontenot currently resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she works as an RN Staff Nurse at Ochsner Health System – The Grove – Infusion/ Rheumatology Infusion. She studied nursing at Louisiana State University Eunice, and has been practicing rheumatology since 2017. Nursing is her passion, and believes that rheumatology is a hidden gem within the medical field. Joni and her husband, Luke, have been married since 2015, and have twin boys, Jack and Owen. In her spare time, you can find her starting a new DIY project, sewing, working in her flower beds, or cooking delicious cajun meals.