Gout vs Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Written by Angie Arriesgado
featured image for blog post on gout vs osteoarthritis

In today’s gout vs osteoarthritis blog post, we’ll talk about these forms of arthritis that affect millions of people worldwide. We’ll go over their similarities and differences, who’s at risk, and more importantly, we’ll find out if dietary supplements like our Curcumin Phytosome can help with pain management.

An overview of gout vs osteoarthritis

These two “cousins” are known for inflicting pain, stiffness, discomfort, and swelling in joints. Let’s get to know them better here.

What is gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis that usually affects the big toe, but neighboring toes, finger joints, wrists, ankles, and knees aren’t spared. The culprit? High levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product from purine digestion.

Purines are chemical compounds present in seafood, shellfish, red meat, organ meat, and alcoholic drinks. It’s also produced naturally in the body.

While uric acid is excreted when you go to the toilet, some people (usually men) are prone to retaining it in their blood. This can lead to uric acid build-up, potentially triggering a gout attack.

Who’s at risk?

Interestingly, gout was known as the “disease of kings” just a few hundred years ago. It got this nickname because most victims were wealthy, older men who could afford to indulge excessively in rich food and wine. 

But not anymore! Now, it’s a fair playing field – rich, middle class, poor – everyone can get gout, although it’s still a predominantly male disease. It can start affecting men in their 20s or 30s, while women usually only get it post-menopause.

Other risk factors include genetics, eating a purine-rich diet, being overweight or obese, and alcohol consumption. 

What is osteoarthritis?

Known as the “wear and tear” disease, osteoarthritis (OA) is another painful joint condition that mainly affects the knees, hips, and hands of older individuals.

OA pain in the knees and hips can be crippling. On the other hand, those with hand OA may experience minimal function along with debilitating pain.

Who’s at risk?

Age is the #1 risk factor. The aging process causes our cartilage to become brittle, the ligaments and tendons to stiffen, the meniscus to degrade, and bone structure to change (1). All these can eventually cause the bones in your joints to rub together, causing friction, stiffness, and pain.  

Unfortunately, more and more young people are getting diagnosed with the disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, being overweight or obese adds a lot of extra pressure on the knees. Years of carrying excess weight can cause stress and damage to joints.

Aside from age and excess weight, other risk factors include genetics and anatomical deformities.

Gout vs osteoarthritis: Which is more painful?

Both gout and osteoarthritis are obviously painful, just ask anyone who’s been diagnosed with either condition…

But not all joint pain is equal.

For gout, think of tiny, needle-sharp uric acid crystals rubbing together in your big toe joint when you walk.

For osteoarthritis, think of the friction when a bone rubs on another bone (it may even make a grinding sound).

Which one do you think will make you suck your teeth in pain?

Well, according to a 2019 survey, a gout attack is said to be even more excruciating than severe burns, kidney stones, breaking a bone, childbirth, and even being hit by a car! The pain can come on suddenly, causing swelling, redness, and warmth in the area. Moreover, a particularly bad gout attack can cause fever and chills.

On the other hand, OA pain may be intermittent or persistent and wax and wane throughout the day. The pain usually worsens with activity, so refraining from putting weight or pressure on the affected area is a good idea. 

Osteoarthritis pain may not be as abrupt and bad as gout pain, but it can still be pretty bad, especially considering that most people diagnosed with OA are older. It is also a progressive disease, meaning it will worsen over time.

Speaking of pain, it is possible for someone to get both gout and osteoarthritis. They can affect the same joints, possibly doubling the pain, swelling, and stiffness. Having gout makes you susceptible to OA and vice versa (2). So, it’s important to recognize the signs and keep either condition under control.

Gout vs osteoarthritis: What are the available treatment options?

It is impossible to ignore both gout and osteoarthritis pain. Fortunately, the following options may help manage the pain effectively:

1) Curcumin supplements

One of the best supplements that can help with gout and osteoarthritis management is our Curcumin Phytosome supplement. We use Meriva® curcumin, a patented curcumin-phosphatidylcholine blend that promotes up to 2900% better absorption than ordinary curcumin.

How can curcumin help with gout?

Meriva curcumin phytosome 500

Curcumin may help with kidney health (3). This is important because the kidneys filter uric acid and other waste products in the blood. With an ill-functioning kidney, uric acid can build up, which may lead to a gout attack. Keeping the kidneys in good health will allow them to do their filtering job more effectively.

Additionally, an in vivo study reported that turmeric nanoparticles effectively reduced uric acid levels in mice. The researchers went on to say that turmeric is a safe and promising anti-gout agent (4). How is this related to curcumin? Well, curcumin is the most potent compound in turmeric, so this study is pretty significant when taking curcumin for gout.

Moreover, curcumin may also help reduce the inflammation caused by gout crystals. It can block an inflammatory protein called NF-kappa B, which may help provide relief during a gout attack (5).

How can curcumin help with osteoarthritis?

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are said to be behind its effectiveness in treating osteoarthritis pain. In one study, OA patients who took 500mg of curcumin 2x daily experienced less pain in their knees and better mobility (6).

A ten-study literature review also shared the same findings. Curcumin therapy significantly improved pain and function in patients with knee OA. Moreover, the supplement was deemed to be safe with no significant adverse effects reported (7).

Moreover, a Meriva curcumin study showed that it might help reduce pain and stiffness in OA patients. Additionally, the same patients reportedly improved their walking distance by 336% and inflammation markers went down by 93% (8).

Note:

For maintenance, we recommend our 250mg Curcumin Phytosome. On the other hand, our higher dose 500mg Curcumin Phytosome may provide faster relief for gout and osteoarthritis symptoms.

Also, supplements aren’t medicines and shouldn’t be treated as such. They won’t work overnight (most scientific studies run experiments for several weeks). However, the upside is that side effects, if any, are minimal. Please consult your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re taking medication. 

2) Medicines

For gout, medicines like colchicine, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can effectively reduce pain and inflammation. To reduce uric acid levels in the blood, allopurinol and febuxostat may help.

For osteoarthritis, NSAIDs and acetaminophen may help relieve pain and inflammation in the affected joints. Cortisone injections can suppress pain for longer, lasting for months at a time.

While medicines can help with immediate pain relief for gout and osteoarthritis, many people experience side effects ranging from stomach issues and nausea to mood changes (9).

3) Lifestyle changes

Making the necessary lifestyle changes may help reduce gout flare-ups and osteoarthritis pain.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding purine-rich foods and alcoholic drinks should be at the top of the list. Then maintain a healthy weight to keep pressure off your joints. Regular exercise should help with flexibility and improve symptoms, too.

Read this blog post for tips on how to keep your joints healthy as you age.

4) Surgery

Surgery is expensive and carries its own risk, but it may provide faster relief than any other treatment option.

Uncontrolled gout can lead to tophi, where uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints, making them look swollen and bulbous. When this happens, arthroscopic gout removal or tophi removal surgery may be the best option.

Untreated osteoarthritis, on the other hand, can lead to the complete breakdown of cartilage. Other possible outcomes are joint deformity, stress fractures, and even bone death.

Surgical management of OA includes meniscal transplantation, autologous chondrocyte implantation, hip replacement, knee replacement, and bone realignment (osteotomy) (10).

Final words on gout vs arthritis

Without a doubt, both joint conditions are painful and can affect patients’ quality of life. But a combination of a healthy diet, weight management, exercise, and regular curcumin supplementation may help combat the symptoms, allowing gout and osteoarthritis sufferers to live a relatively pain-free and active life!