How to Stop Gout Pain at Night: Effective Tips and Remedies

May 21, 2024 | 8 min read

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Gout often causes intense pain at night, disrupting sleep and daily life. Learning how to stop gout pain at night is essential for better health. Causes include high uric acid levels, dehydration, and sleep apnea. 

Quick relief comes from medications and home remedies, while long-term strategies like dietary changes, weight management, and exercise help prevent future attacks.

how to stop gout pain at night

Understanding Gout and Nighttime Pain

What is Gout?

A gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. When uric acid accumulates, it can form sharp, needle-like crystals in the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to sudden and severe pain.

This condition is particularly known for affecting the big toe, but other joints like the knees, ankles, feet, shouldershands, wrists, heels, and elbows can also be involved.

Common symptoms of gout include:

  • Intense joint pain, often starting at night
  • Swelling and redness around the affected joint
  • Warmth and tenderness in the joint area
  • Limited range of motion due to pain and swelling

These symptoms can make it difficult to perform daily activities and significantly impact the quality of life. 

For a more comprehensive assessment of your symptoms, you can use Symptom Checker.

Remember, this tool is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

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Why Does Gout Hurt More at Night?

A study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology found that the risk of having a gout attack between midnight and 8 a.m. is 2.36 times higher than during the daytime hours.

Gout pain tends to be more intense at night due to several physiological factors:


During sleep, many people do not drink water, leading to a decrease in hydration levels. Dehydration can concentrate uric acid in the blood, increasing the likelihood of crystal formation in the joints.

Body Temperature

Our body temperature naturally drops slightly during sleep. This reduction in temperature can promote the formation of uric acid crystals, as cooler temperatures facilitate their crystallization in the joints. Keeping warm and maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment may help reduce this effect.

Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is a hormone that helps control inflammation. It follows a circadian rhythm, peaking in the morning and reaching its lowest levels at night. Lower cortisol levels at night mean less natural anti-inflammatory protection, which can exacerbate gout pain and inflammation.

Breathing Patterns

Breathing slows down during sleep, which can lead to a decrease in the expulsion of carbon dioxide. This can increase the acidity of the blood, creating an environment that encourages uric acid crystal formation. Ensuring proper ventilation and avoiding factors that may worsen breathing issues can be beneficial.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can disrupt normal breathing patterns and oxygen levels during sleep, contributing to higher uric acid levels and more frequent gout attacks. Addressing sleep apnea through medical intervention can help reduce gout flare-ups and improve overall health.

Immediate Relief for Gout Pain at Night



Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to provide relief from gout pain and inflammation. These medications work by inhibiting enzymes that cause inflammation in the body.

Taking NSAIDs can help reduce swelling, pain, and discomfort associated with gout flares.

Benefits of NSAIDs include:

  • Rapid pain relief
  • Reduction in swelling and inflammation
  • Improved mobility and function of the affected joint

Colchicine: How It Works and When to Use It

Colchicine (marketed as Colcrys) was approved for the prophylaxis of gout flares by the FDA. Colchicine is another effective medication for treating gout flares. It works by reducing the inflammation caused by uric acid crystals in the joints.

Colchicine is particularly useful when taken at the onset of a gout attack, as it can help lessen the severity and duration of the flare.

How Colchicine works:

  • Inhibits the movement of white blood cells to the affected area
  • Reduces the inflammatory response
  • Decreases pain and swelling

Colchicine is usually taken in low doses to minimize side effects. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions regarding the dosage and timing of colchicine to achieve the best results and avoid potential side effects.

CAUTION: This information is for informational purposes only. Use colchicine only after it is prescribed by a doctor and under their guidance to ensure safe and effective treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

Corticosteroids: Usage and Effectiveness

Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications that can be used to manage severe gout attacks. These medications work by quickly reducing inflammation and pain.

Corticosteroids can be administered orally or injected directly into the affected joint for more immediate relief.

Benefits of corticosteroids:

  • Rapid reduction of inflammation and pain
  • Effective for severe gout flares
  • Can be used when NSAIDs and colchicine are not suitable

While corticosteroids are effective, they should be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider due to potential side effects, especially with long-term use.

Home Remedies

Elevate the Joint

Elevating the affected joint can provide significant relief from gout pain and swelling. When you elevate the joint, it reduces blood flow to the area, which helps decrease inflammation and pain.

To elevate the joint, use pillows or cushions to prop up the affected limb, ensuring it is above the level of your heart. This position can be particularly beneficial at night when you are lying down, as it can help minimize discomfort and improve sleep quality.

Apply Ice

Applying ice to the affected joint is an effective way to reduce pain and swelling. The cold temperature helps numb the area, providing immediate relief from the intense pain of a gout flare.

To apply ice correctly:

  • Wrap ice or a cold pack in a cloth or towel to protect your skin
  • Apply the cold compress to the affected joint for 15-20 minutes at a time
  • Repeat the process several times a day as needed

Regular use of ice packs can help manage the symptoms of a gout flare and make it easier to cope with the pain, especially at night.

Long-Term Strategies to Prevent Nighttime Gout Attacks

Dietary Changes

Low-Purine Diet: Foods to Avoid and Foods to Include

A low-purine diet is essential for managing gout and preventing nighttime attacks. Purines are substances found in certain foods that break down into uric acid in the body. Reducing purine intake can help lower uric acid levels and decrease the frequency of gout flares.

Foods to Include:

  • Low-fat dairy products like yogurt and skim milk
  • Whole grains, including brown rice, oats, and barley
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially cherries, which may help reduce uric acid levels
  • Nuts and seeds, which are low in purines and high in beneficial nutrients

Foods to Avoid:

  • Red meats, such as beef, lamb, and pork
  • Organ meats, like liver and kidneys
  • Shellfish and oily fish, including anchovies, sardines, and mackerel
  • High-purine vegetables, such as asparagus, spinach, and mushrooms

Alcohol and High-Fructose Products: Impact on Gout and Recommendations

Alcohol and high-fructose products can significantly impact gout by increasing uric acid production.


  • Beer and liquor are particularly problematic for gout sufferers as they contain high levels of purines and can lead to dehydration, both of which can trigger gout attacks.
  • It’s best to limit or avoid alcohol consumption altogether to prevent nighttime gout flares.

High-Fructose Products:

  • Sugary drinks, such as sodas and fruit juices with added sugar, can increase uric acid levels and contribute to gout flares.
  • Opt for water, herbal teas, or natural fruit juices without added sugars to stay hydrated and reduce the risk of gout attacks.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for managing gout and preventing nighttime flares. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute uric acid levels in the blood, reducing the risk of crystal formation in the joints.

It is particularly important to stay hydrated throughout the day and before going to bed.

Tips for staying hydrated:

  • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily
  • Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, as they can increase uric acid levels
  • Consider drinking a glass of water before bed to maintain hydration during the night

By keeping yourself well-hydrated, you can help prevent dehydration-induced gout attacks and manage your symptoms more effectively.

Medication Management

Urate-Lowering Medications: Examples and How They Help

Urate-lowering medications help manage gout by reducing the amount of uric acid in the blood. These medications can prevent the formation of uric acid crystals and reduce the frequency of gout attacks.


  • Allopurinol: Helps lower uric acid production in the body. (According to the FDA, ZYLOPRIM (allopurinol) can be used to block the formation of urates).
  • Febuxostat: Another medication that reduces uric acid levels and is used when allopurinol is not suitable. (Febuxostat is approved by the FDA to treat a type of arthritis called gout in adults.)

CAUTION: This information is intended for educational purposes only. Use Allopurinol and Febuxostat only when prescribed by a doctor and under their supervision to ensure safe and effective treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

Regular Check-Ups

Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are crucial for effective gout management.

These visits allow the following:

  • Monitoring uric acid levels
  • Adjusting medications as needed
  • Discussing dietary and lifestyle changes
  • Identifying and addressing any complications

Personalized treatment plans developed with your healthcare provider can help manage gout more effectively and reduce the occurrence of nighttime flares.

Lifestyle Modifications

Weight Management

  • Engage in regular physical activity
  • Monitor portion sizes and avoid overeating

Regular Exercise

Benefits of Physical Activity:

  • Enhances overall fitness and well-being
  • Reduces stress, which can trigger gout attacks
  • Improves joint mobility and strength

Safe Exercises for Gout Sufferers:

  • Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling
  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility
  • Strength training with light weights to support joint health

Tips for Better Sleep with Gout

Create a Gout-Friendly Sleep Environment

Comfortable Bedding

Creating a comfortable sleep environment can help reduce gout pain at night.


  • Use light sheets and blankets to avoid putting pressure on the affected joints.
  • Ensure your mattress provides adequate support to keep your body aligned.

Foot Protection

Protecting your foot from pressure can minimize pain during the night.


  • Use a foot cradle or blanket lifter to keep sheets and blankets off your feet.
  • Position pillows around your feet to prevent accidental contact during sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

Wind Down Before Bed

Good sleep hygiene is crucial for managing gout pain and improving sleep quality.


  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and heavy meals in the evening to prevent sleep disturbances.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation before bed.


Finding a comfortable sleeping position can help reduce gout pain at night.


  • Elevate the affected joint using pillows to reduce swelling.
  • Sleep on your back or side with a pillow between your knees to keep your body aligned.

Consulting Professionals

Consulting with specialists can provide additional support for managing gout and improving sleep quality.


  • See a rheumatologist for specialized gout treatment and management plans.
  • Consult a sleep specialist if you have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders that may be affecting your gout.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Managing gout pain at night requires both immediate relief and long-term strategies. Medications and home remedies can provide quick relief, while lifestyle changes like a low-purine diet, proper hydration, and regular exercise help prevent future attacks.

Understanding the factors that worsen gout at night and making appropriate adjustments can significantly improve your quality of life. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalized treatment plans. 

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