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What could be more painful than walking on broken glass? Unless . . . the broken glass was actually inside your joints!

If you're one of the 2% of us with Gout, then you'll have no trouble recognizing that description. Within a few hours of an attack, your big toe turns agonizingly red-hot and swollen from uric acid needles crystalizing inside the exquisitely tender synovium of the joint space. You may find yourself cutting your shoes apart as the pain becomes too intense to endure. Sufferers can't tolerate even the brush of a bed sheet. Walking becomes impossible. Weeks of inflammation eat holes into the bone.

All it takes is one simple test to prove the cause. Just ask your friendly doctor to stab a fat needle into your insanely painful joint and aspirate some pus for analysis. The diagnosis is clinched when the lab reports negatively birefringent needle-shaped crystals in the joint fluid, although by that time your friendship with the doctor may have cooled.

Fortunately, gout attacks are easy to treat with the inexpensive natural medicine Colchicine. Less fortunate is the news that drug company URL Pharma recently conspired to have this medicine withdrawn, and issued a new, nearly identical formulation that costs sixty times as much -- a fine example of modern medical progress.

If you want an affordable plan to prevent future attacks, you can always consider Benjamin Franklin's advice published in the Poor Richard Almanac: "Be temperate in wine, in eating, girls, and cloth, or the Gout will seize you and plague you both."

Needless to say, Benjamin Franklin suffered from gout to the end of his days.

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