The big toe is the most typical spot for gout patients to feel severe discomfort and swelling in their joints. It’s interesting to note that a lot of gout sufferers claim their symptoms get worse at night. The causes of this phenomenon and the reasons why gout pain arises primarily at night are discussed in this article.
Before delving into the nighttime occurrence of gout pain, let’s briefly understand the condition itself. An excess of uric acid levels in the blood causes gout, which manifests as needle-like crystals growing in the joints. Due to the inflammation that these crystals cause, joint pain, swelling, redness, and soreness appear suddenly and intensely.
The Role Of Uric Acid
Uric acid is produced naturally by the body when purines, which are nutrients found in many diets and are also produced by the body, are broken down. In healthy individuals, the substance mixes in the bloodstream and is removed through the urine. But in people having gout, the body either produces excessive uric acid or has difficulties successfully getting rid of it, which results in the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints.
Nighttime Gout Pain
The reason why gout pain is more prevalent during the night can be attributed to several factors:
Body Temperature And Uric Acid Solubility: Uric acid solubility decreases as body temperature drops. During the night, when body temperature naturally decreases, the uric acid crystals become less soluble, causing them to precipitate and accumulate in the joints. This leads to increased inflammation, pain, and discomfort.
Reduced Blood Flow: Blood flow tends to be slower during nighttime due to factors such as inactivity and lying down. Reduced blood flow means less efficient removal of uric acid crystals from the joints, allowing them to accumulate and exacerbate gout symptoms.
Changes In Hormone Levels: Inflammation is one of the many biological processes that hormones control. Some studies suggest that hormone levels, particularly cortisol and melatonin, fluctuate during the night, potentially affecting inflammation levels and pain perception. These hormonal changes may contribute to the increased severity of gout pain experienced at night.
Inactivity And Joint Stiffness: Many people are relatively inactive during the night, spending several hours in bed without moving their joints. Joint stiffness and decreased joint mobility may result from this extended period of inactivity. Stiff joints are more susceptible to the intense pain associated with gout attacks, making nighttime discomfort more pronounced.