Gout pain “excruciating” but not always taken seriously

July 3, 2010

More than two-thirds of surveyed patients with gout described the pain of an attack as “miserable,” but one-fourth suggested that persons who do not have gout perceive them as overreacting to attacks and two-thirds think that others do not take the condition seriously.

More than two-thirds of surveyed patients with gout described the pain of an attack as “miserable,” but one-fourth suggested that persons who do not have gout perceive them as overreacting to attacks and two-thirds think that others do not take the condition seriously. These are some of the key findings of the 2010 Gout Attitudes Patient Survey (GAPS), a Men's Health Network (MHN) study of Americans with gout designed to assess the level of discomfort or pain they have experienced, its emotional toll, and how well they understand their condition.

Other results of the survey of 1000 patients with gout included the following:

•In describing the physical sensation of a gout attack, 23% compared the pain to shattered glass piercing their skin, 28% to breaking a bone, and 34% to a severe burn.

•In exchange for never having another gout flare, 37% said they would give up winning the lottery and 22% would give up a year's worth of vacation time.

•One-third had experienced an average of 2 or more attacks in the previous 12 months, but 91% thought that they had their gout under control.

•Just more than half rated their gout as “very severe or severe.”

•Half reported “unbearable pain” during a flare.

•During an attack, more than one-fourth reported being bedridden and taking time off from work and close to three-fourths said that their physical activity was limited.

•Only half correctly attributed their condition to an increased level or accumulation of uric acid.

•Reported emotions resulting from the pain of a gout attack included stress (64%), anger (47%), depression (40%), embarrassment (16%), and feeling overwhelmed (38%).

Men and women showed different tendencies in their responses. More men claimed that if they did not have gout, they would participate in more sports activities and exercise (men, 41%, vs women, 33%), and men were more likely than women to react to gout flares with anger and to feel that they brought the attacks upon themselves.

The results of the study, conducted by Braun Research, Inc, suggest a disconnect between the degree of pain and discomfort that patients with gout experience and the reported success of their care or management plan. Recommended for physicians are raising patients' awareness of the need for a proactive approach to managing their gout, including a combination of lifestyle modifications and medication, and working closely with them to develop the best plan to meet their specific needs. (For more on gout and gout management, go to www.musculoskeletalnetwork.com to see “New therapeutic options for gout here and on the horizon” [“Article Archive,” March 8, 2010], authored by physicians at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington and the New York University School of Medicine/NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York.)

For more information about MHN and to see the complete GAPS results, please visit http://www.menshealthnetwork.org. Or, contact the organization at Men's Health Network, PO Box 75972, Washington, DC 20013; telephone: 202-543-MHN-1 (6461).