Gout is a complex illness caused by deposits of crystallized uric acid in the joint. What is uric acid? Uric acid is the breakdown of purines—chemicals found naturally in our bodies and in food. They are present in the blood and eliminated in the urine. However, for people who have gout, uric acid builds up and crystallizes in the joints. Some patients develop gout because they produce too much uric acid, and others because their kidneys have difficulty removing normal amounts of it.
Gout is most often found in the big toe because uric acid is sensitive to temperature changes. Uric acid turns into crystals at cooler temperatures. The big toe is the coolest part of the body because it is furthest away from the heart. However, gout can affect any joint in the body.
Causes of Gout
Often it is an inherited condition, yet there are other factors that put a person at risk, including diabetes, chemotherapy, high blood pressure, obesity, stress, surgery, and certain medications.
Foods and beverages that contain high levels of purines can trigger a gout attack. Patients with gout should limit or avoid beer, organ meats, shellfish, red meat, and red wine.
Symptoms of Gout
An attack of gout can be very uncomfortable for the sufferer. Gout is usually marked by the following symptoms:
Intense and sudden pain.
Though usually found in the joints of your big toe, gout can also occur in the feet, knees, hands, and wrists. It occurs most often in the middle of the night or upon waking in the morning. The pain is most severe within the first 4 to 12 hours of the attack.
After the severe pain ebbs, there may be some lasting discomfort for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Inflammation and redness.
The affected joint will be swollen, extremely tender, warm, and red.
Reduced range of motion.
As gout progresses, one might find they have a decreased range of joint mobility.
To diagnose gout, we will ask questions about your family and personal medical history. We will also thoroughly examine the affected joint. On occasion, lab tests and X-rays may be ordered to better determine if the inflammation is caused by gout or something else.
Potential Treatment Options
Gout attacks are initially treated in the following ways:
You will need to avoid foods and beverages high in purines because the body converts purines to uric acid.
Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
You will need to drink plenty of water and other fluids each day to remain adequately hydrated. Alcoholic beverages cause dehydration and should be avoided.
Immobilize and elevate.
When gout attacks, you need to give your foot a rest. Avoid standing and walking. Elevate the foot so it is level to or slightly above the heart to reduce swelling.
Medications or injections.
We may prescribe medications or injections to treat the pain, inflammation, and swelling.
If gout symptoms continue despite the treatments outlined above, or if repeated attacks occur, you may need to see your primary care physician for treatment of any underlying problems that are not foot related.
Are You Suffering From Gout In The Caldwell Or Meridian, Idaho Area?
If you're suffering from gout you owe it to yourself to speak with our experienced podiatrists as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 208.855.5955 to schedule your appointment. We service all areas surrounding Meridian, Idaho as well as all areas in the Caldwell, Idaho area. We look forward to helping you!