Bears' Adams winning bout with gout
Defensive tackle moderates diet to help deal with flare-ups
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:14 p.m. CDT, November 5, 2011
An odd thing happened to Anthony Adams when he returned from the Bears' 2009 off week: He popped up on the injury report.
Members of the Bears coaching staff poked fun at Adams, wondering how the veteran nose tackle managed to get banged up without practicing.
"It was like getting fired on your day off,'' Adams joked.
But it was no laughing matter.
Adams' right foot flared up during a weekend escape to Miami with his family. It was the same excruciating pain he felt a few months earlier while shopping at Sam's Club.
"I felt like it was sprained or something,'' Adams said. "I couldn't even get up and walk around. But once I got off the flight, it was done.''
Adams consulted with team athletic trainer Tim Bream and discovered he had gout, a form of arthritis that causes sudden and sometimes severe attacks in the joints. It is a result of high levels of uric acid in the blood. When the body has too much uric acid, needle-shape crystals deposit outside the bloodstream, normally around the joints.
"I was like, 'Oh man, I'm too young to have gout,''' Adams said.
Ruth Kadanoff, a rheumatologist at Loyola University Health System, explained that gout typically is more common in men than in women and generally affects those older than 30. The condition is partly hereditary and often associated with obesity, diuretics and kidney disease. Long term, those with gout are at a higher risk for heart disease.
The 6-foot, 310-pound Adams, 31, has had a couple gout flare-ups per year since being diagnosed. The episode during the '09 off week caused him to miss a day of practice. He was limited the following two days and listed as questionable but played and recorded three tackles in Atlanta.
Gout attacks can last up to 10 days.
"It hurt,'' Adams recalled of the Falcons game. "It was like at the point where it was leaving my body. But once you get the attack, there's no way you can do anything.''
Gout might not be an everyday occurrence among pro athletes, but cases do arise. J.P Howell, a 28-year-old relief pitcher for the Rays, missed a June game with gout in his left foot. Rays manager Joe Maddon had somewhat of the same lighthearted reaction as Bears coaches.
"(Howell) told me he's supposed to not eat red meats, eat seafood or drink red wine," Maddon told the Tampa media. "I would die in like three weeks.''
Like Howell, Adams has learned to control his gout by altering his diet. He has cut back on beer. He has laid off red meat, somewhat reluctantly.
"You know I ate burgers from anywhere and everywhere,'' Adams said. "But it's not like I went somewhere and said 'Let me get eight burgers' or went to White Castle and said, 'Let me get 20 stacks.' I didn't eat that much red meat or seafood or stuff, so it is kind of frustrating to have this.''
Adams' revised diet consists of plenty of chicken and turkey. He takes a daily dose of allopurinol, a prescription medicine that reduces the production of uric acid.
Now he hopes the gout doesn't flare up for the remainder of this season.
Adams continues to play a key role on the defensive line despite losing his starting job to Matt Toeaina. Adams started the last two games at nose tackle with Toeaina sidelined with a sprained knee, but Toeaina is healthy and expected to start Monday night.
Coach Lovie Smith isn't too concerned about Adams' gout problem.
"It's just like any other injury, and we don't get too wrapped up into injuries,'' Smith said. "He hasn't missed a whole lot of time with it.''
Smith said Adams "needs to play better'' moving forward. Monday might give Adams a chance to take the first step. He has 3½ of his 10½ career sacks against the Eagles.
No matter what his role is in the future, Adams said he refuses to let his bout with gout interfere.
"Nah, I'm not worried about it. I'm not concerned at all,'' he said. "Plus my wife is a stickler for all that stuff related to my diet. She's on me. All she has to do is give me that look.''
Sorry to hear he struggles with gout. That can be painful. I don't know if it's that or he's just slowing down but he hasn't looked all that good this year. I'll be glad when Toe gets back but in the meantime I wish they'd give Paea more snaps and AA less. Now that we have Okoye Paea will probably be spending most of his time playing NT so it's time to get him some experience.
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.