Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:
My mother is suffering from gout in both her knees. She doesn't want to exercise because it hurts. Isn't exercise a great way to break up the crystals in her knees where the gout is concentrated?
Signed, KB

Doctor's Response:
When gout is actively causing inflammation in a joint (arthritis), all efforts should be directed toward eradicating the inflammation. This generally means resting the joint, ice/cold applications, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Exercising a joint that is already inflamed can prolong the inflammation and cause more pain.Gently moving the joint through its range of motion can sometimes prevent stiffness.

After the inflammation of the joint has quieted down, gradual exercise is often encouraged to re-establish strength and movement of the muscles around the joint.

Exercise has no benefit or effect on breaking up tiny crystals of gout (monosodium urate crystals) in the joints.These tiny (microscopic)crystals are only as long as a white blood cell is wide. They dissolve (disappear) and form according to the body's metabolism (processing of substances), state of hydration (amount of water),and in response to medications that influence the uric acid level in the blood.

Thank you for your question.

Medical Author: William Shiel, MD, FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Leslie J. Schoenfield, M.D., Ph.D.


Last Editorial Review: 12/30/2004