Gout not associated with increased risk of fractures, study finds

A large study led by Keele University has found that patients suffering with gout are not at a higher risk of fractures, contradicting previous research findings.

Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis, which affects 2.4% of adults in the UK. The painful condition is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood which develops needle-like crystals in the joint.

Previous research has provided conflicting evidence about whether or not patients suffering with gout are more likely to experience fractures. These earlier studies have failed to take into account lifestyle related factors, such as body mass index (BMI) and alcohol consumption.
The large study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research, aimed to gain a better understanding of fracture risk for gout patients and improve pain management.

Using data from a large primary care research database, the research team studied over 31,000 patients with gout and followed them for between 6.8 years and 13.6 years.

The research found that the number of patients with fractures also suffering with gout, was similar to those without the condition. In addition, it found that the medication used to lower the uric acid levels in gout patients had no effect on the long-term risk of fractures.

The research was conducted as part of the Research Institute’s for Primary Care and Health Sciences ‘inflammatory conditions’ research programme, which aims to improve both the diagnosis and management of common inflammatory disorders in primary care.

Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Rheumatology, Dr Zoe Paskins, who led the study commented:

“Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are known to be associated with increased risk of fracture. However, the fracture risk of other common inflammatory conditions such as gout has not been established before.

“The aim of this study was to quantify the risk of fractures amongst these patients. These study findings should allow us to generalise not only to the UK but also other countries with similar healthcare systems.”

The study findings were published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.