The debate continues to rage about heat or ice for gout relief.

Do Not Be Cold-Hearted About Ice For Gout

Ice is a well recognized treatment for gout

But does it relieve your gout or make it worse?

There is no doubt that ice relieves swelling. There is no doubt that an acute gout flare causes painful swelling. The big question is: does the beneficial aspect of inflammation control from ice, outweigh the risks from lower temperatures?

There are several references to ice as a gout pain relief treatment in medical literature. One researcher has suggested that ice treatment can even be used to differentiate between gout and other forms of arthritis[1]. In that investigation, patients suffering from proven gout, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis were asked to report if ice treatment helped them, or made pain worse. The claim is that cold will help gout pain, therefore it is a useful addition to gout treatment.

But is short-term pain relief the only factor?

We know from several studies that uric acid crystals develop much more readily at lower temperatures. Like many of my fellow gout sufferers, I have experienced the pain of a gout flare in extremities left uncovered in a cold bedroom. Is it really wise to subject a uric acid laden joint to lower temperatures knowing that this will encourage uric acid crystals to form?

Now, if ice was the only gout relief available for pain, then the risks of using ice might outweigh the discomfort of intense pain. But, there are many alternative treatments, with plenty of choices. You can read about these in the Gout Treatment Guidelines. Though there is no medical consensus, the views of members of the gout forum are clear:

If you have gout, avoid applying ice, keep joints warm, and lower uric acid to 5mg/dL (0.30mmol/L) so you can stop worrying about gout pain. When you solve the uric acid crisis, you no longer need to worry about gout relief, as you never get the pain.
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Heat Or Ice For Gout Relief References

  1. Published: J Clin Rheumatol. 2006 Dec;12(6):275-6. Title: Response to application of ice may help differentiate between gouty arthritis and other inflammatory arthritides. Author: Schlesinger N.

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