Ice beneficial in treating gouty arthritis.




Journal of Rheumatology

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Gout
Professional Data: Gout


Gout has been defined as one of the most painful rheumatic diseases. It results when crystals of uric acid are deposited in connective tissue, joint spaces, or both, and is due to a disorder of uric acid metabolism. It is caused by either an overproduction, or under excretion of uric acid and is manifested by hyperuricemia, acute or chronic recurrent arthritis, and deposits of monosodium urates.

The attacks of acute gouty arthritis most often affect joints in the toes and then the insteps, ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. Attacks most often occur at night, with a patient awakening in excruciating pain.

The second stage of gout is acute gout or gouty arthritis—In this stage, the high levels of uric acid in the blood has caused the deposit of crystals in joint spaces known as tophi. This leads to sudden onset of intense pain and swelling in the joints, which may also be warm and tender. An acute attack commonly occurs at night and can be triggered by stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or other acute illness. Early attacks usually last 3-10 days, even without treatment, and the next attack may not occur for months or even years. Over time, however, attacks can last longer and occur more frequently.

A recent study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, involved 19 patients in the acute gout stage. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential role of ice therapy in reducing arthritic pain in these patients. These individuals were divided into two groups. Both groups received 30 mg of oral prednisone as well as cholchicine. One group also received topical ice therapy. The groups followed this regimen for 1 week. The results of this study showed that the group who received the ice therapy had a significant reduction in pain compared to the other group. Joint circumference was improved in the ice group as well. The authors concluded that although there was great improvement with ice therapy, this was a small study and so they could not prove statistical improvement in all variables. In addition, they stated that topical ice therapy might be useful as a supplement to the treatment of gouty arthritis.1


1. Schlesinger N. Local ice therapy during bouts of acute gouty arthritis. The Journal of Rheumatology, Feb 2002;29:331-334.