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Airing Pain 91: Not an Old Man’s Disease

We talk to campaigners, MPs, patients and specialists about the most common form of inflammatory arthritis: gout

This programme was funded by a grant from The Schuh Trust.

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis and affects 1 in 40 people in the UK. So why do we still see it as something that exists only in the pages of Victorian novels? In this episode of Airing Pain we go inside the Houses of Parliament and speak with MPs, clinicians, patients and UK Gout Society members to find out why.

What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints, most frequently the feet. As with many conditions, flare-ups can be brought on by a number of factors including lifestyle, stress and diet. Some people, however, have a genetic predisposition. Paul Webber and Alan Hughes both suffer with gout, describing the pain as being repeatedly being kicked in the shin and worse than a red-hot poker.

What’s the treatment?

Treatments for reducing pain during attacks include icing the joint and taking medications, however there are also long term treatments. There are lifestyle changes we can make, such as consuming less yeast-rich food and drink, staying active and drinking plenty of water. Despite being relatively inexpensive to treat, gout comes at a great cost to the economy and society, as the Chief Executive of ARMA, Sue Brown, highlights.

Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Jonathon Rees identifies a lack of awareness in primary care, with cases often going undiagnosed. Paul also talks to Michael Snaith about his early gout and gender research at the UK’s first gender reassignment, and Lord Ramsbotham sums up perfectly why gout really is no laughing matter.

Issues covered in this programme include: Alcohol, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, chronic renal disease, diabetes, gender differences, gout, hypertension, joint pain, misconceptions, uric acid crystals and weight.


  • Jim Shannon MP for Strangford
  • Dr George Nuki, professor of rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh
  • Paul Webber, person with gout
  • Alun Hughes, person with gout
  • Dr Tim Tait, Consultant Rheumatologist, Royal Hallamshire Hospital
  • Stuart Reed, gout sufferer and patient trustee of the UK Gout Society
  • Dr Jonathan Rees, Consultant Rheumatologist and Sports Medicine, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Adrian Dunbar, GP with a special interest in musculoskeletal medicine and chronic pain
  • Sue Brown, Chief Executive of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Alliance
  • Dr Michael Snaith, retired Consultant Rheumatologist and trustee of the UK Gout Society
  • Lord Ramsbotham, cross bench member of the House of Lords and person with gout
  • Lynsey Conway, UK Gout Society Secretariat.

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