The body naturally processes uric acid through the kidneys. Excess uric acid may form crystals and can cause debilitating pain in the joints of the big toe. This is known as gout, and it is a type of arthritis. There are specific kinds of foods that have large amounts of purines, which convert to uric acid. These can include shellfish, red meat, alcohol, and drinks that are made with sugar. If you suffer from frequent gout attacks, it is beneficial to limit these types of foods and drinks. Common symptoms that are associated with gout can include pain, swelling, and redness surrounding the big toe joints. Additionally, it can be difficult to bear weight on the affected foot. There may be other factors that can cause gout to develop. These can consist of obesity, family history, or it may happen to women who are postmenopausal. If you have gout, it is suggested that you are under the care of a podiatrist who can help you to manage and treat this condition.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and tenderness in the joints. The condition usually affects the joint at the base of the big toe. A gout attack can occur at any random time, such as the middle of the night while you are asleep.
- Intense Joint Pain - Usually around the large joint of your big toe, and it most severe within the first four to twelve hours
- Lingering Discomfort - Joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks
- Inflammation and Redness -Affected joints may become swollen, tender, warm and red
- Limited Range of Motion - May experience a decrease in joint mobility
- Genetics - If family members have gout, you’re more likely to have it
- Medications - Diuretic medications can raise uric acid levels
- Gender/Age - Gout is more common in men until the age of 60. It is believed that estrogen protects women until that point
- Diet - Eating red meat and shellfish increases your risk
- Alcohol - Having more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases your risk
- Obesity - Obese people are at a higher risk for gout
Prior to visiting your podiatrist to receive treatment for gout, there are a few things you should do beforehand. If you have gout you should write down your symptoms--including when they started and how often you experience them, important medical information you may have, and any questions you may have. Writing down these three things will help your podiatrist in assessing your specific situation so that he or she may provide the best route of treatment for you.