Gout Relief – Ice or No Ice?

gout relief using ice packs

Gout pain relief with ice? Here you’ll discover the pro’s and con’s for ice as a way to get gout relief. Ice packs are often used for gout relief. But do they make things worse, not better?

Ice for Gout Relief?

There are many articles on the Internet that propose the application of ice packs as a way to help relieve gout pain.

And on the face of it it seems a good idea, since ice is generally looked upon as an effective method of reducing inflammation, swelling and pain in the body. For instance it is used a lot in sports injuries.

But with gout we need to look at the cause, which is uric acid crystals in the joints and surrounding tissue. And these crystals are formed out of high uric acid levels in the bloodstream. Lower temperatures aid crystal formation. So that if an ice pack is applied the following occurs:-

  • The temperature of the joint and surrounding area is quickly reduced…
  • The blood flow is reduced because the capillaries become restricted…
  • Which limits the body’s natural inflammatory process…
  • So that pain and swelling are reduced. Fantastic relief!


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Lower temperatures and reduced blood flow through the affected area mean that the uric acid crystals become less soluble and so less easy to flush out of the body. And if the ice treatment is frequently repeated there might be the possibilty that even more uric acid crystals could be formed.

So, although the application of ice can definitely bring about gout pain relief, it could be just short term relief leading to consequences afterwards that may delay recovery.

Perhaps a better way to get fast gout relief is to use alternating hot and cold compresses: Hot for 3 minutes then 30 seconds with cold, repeating for about 20 minutes. This should help relieve pain without promoting uric acid crystal formation.

Note: A cold compress can be as simple as an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas. But wrap whichever you use in a dish towel before applying to the affected area. Ahhhhh… the relief!