Does Running Spur Gout Attacks?

Running Man
Strenuous exercise can trigger a gout attack. (Image: Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, such as jogging or running, every week. Jogging or running, however, can be stressful to joints. If you suffer from gout, over-strenuous exercise or a joint injury resulting from running can trigger a gout attack.

Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid forms as a result of the breakdown of purines, which are substances present in the body’s tissues and in many foods, including dried beans and peas, liver and anchovies. Uric acid is eliminated by the kidneys, but in some people, the kidneys cannot excrete enough uric acid, or the body makes too much. When this happens, uric acid crystals can accumulate in one or more joints. The symptoms -- pain, swelling, heat and stiffness -- can be cyclic, with attacks lasting from three to 10 days, followed by symptom-free periods that can last months or years. Even when you have no symptoms, damage is still occurring in the joints.

Risk Factors

Middle-aged and elderly people have a higher risk of gout, but before menopause, women are at a lower risk than men. After age 60, both sexes are at equal risk, and after age 80, women are at higher risk. Other risk factors include obesity, heavy drinking, lead exposure, organ transplant and thyroid problems. A family history of gout increases your risk. It is often a result of a defective enzyme that hinders the body’s breakdown of purines. Finally, certain medications and supplements increase your risk. These include diuretics, levodopa, aspirin, cyclosporine and the vitamin niacin.

Bursitis, Tendinitis and Gout

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac located between a bone and muscle, skin or a tendon. Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon. Gout can cause either condition, as can overuse or injuries from certain activities, including running. If you already suffer from gout, running may increase your risk of bursitis and tendinitis, in addition to increasing your risk of a gout attack.

Gout and Exercise

Exercising regularly is recommended for everyone, including people with gout. Regular exercise, along with a healthy diet, helps you lose and maintain weight, which, in turn, helps you control your gout. Strenuous exercise is not recommended, however, due to the potential for dehydration, which increases the uric acid in your blood. Some exercises, such as running, can also stress the joints and increase the risk of a gout attack. If you find running or even easy jogging causes your gout to flare up, you might consider other forms of exercise, such as swimming or biking, that are less strenuous on your joints.

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