Gout is a very painful type of arthritis that most often affects the joint in your big toe, although it can occur in any joint. It is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body which then crystallizes in the joints. Uric acid is the byproduct of the breakdown of purines, a chemical that is naturally occurring in your body and also found in certain foods. Patients who have gout either produce too much uric acid or are unable to eliminate it efficiently or both.
Gout attacks can come on rather suddenly and often strike in the middle of the night when you’re asleep. In addition to excruciating pain in the joint you may also experience any or all of the following:
- Swelling of the joint
- Reduced range of motion
A gout attack may last for several hours. Afterwards, it’s possible that some swelling and pain may continue for several days or even weeks. Repeated attacks may be more intense and last for longer periods of time.
Although anyone can get gout it most often happens to men ages 40-60. Other risk factors include:
- Consuming foods and beverages with high levels of purines. These include: red meat, organ meats, shellfish, rich sauces, red wine, brandy and beer.
- Obesity or being overweight
- Certain medications and vitamins including some diuretics and niacin
Diagnosis and Treatment
To determine if gout is the cause of your joint pain, the podiatrist will examine your feet and toes, review your medical history and ask questions about your lifestyle and diet. Tests may be ordered that will help confirm the diagnosis. These include x-rays, joint fluid test and a blood test.
The treatment for gout will depend on your individual triggers. The podiatrist will develop a plan that’s best for you. Some possible options include:
- Limiting or eliminating foods that trigger a gout attack
- Losing weight
- Exercise and/or physical therapy
- Drinking plenty of fluids to help flush excess uric acid out of your body
Prescription medications and injections may also be used to treat and prevent future attacks of gout.
Fortunately, gout can be successfully managed. If you believe you are suffering with gout, contact Caring Podiatry today to get treatment.