Gout is a common form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines — substances that are found in your body and also in foods such as steak, organ meats, seafood, wine, beer, and fructose.
Typically, uric acid dissolves into your bloodstream and is then excreted in your urine.
However, if your body produces too much uric acid or if your kidneys don’t process it, the build-up creates sharp, painful uric crystals that accumulate in your joints or surrounding tissues. The needle-like crystals cause your joints and tissues to swell and may damage your joints.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
The most common gout symptom is sudden, intense joint pain, particularly in one of your big toes. However, gout can affect any joint. Joints with gout usually appear swollen and red. They may be warm to the touch, tender, and may lose mobility as the attack progresses.
Gout pain often occurs at night and is most severe for the first hour or two. Pain should subside after four to 12 hours but can linger for days to weeks.
What Are Some Risk Factors for Gout?
You are at increased risk for gout if you:
- Are a man between the ages of 30 and 50
- Are obese
- Have a family history of gout
- Eat protein-rich diets of meat and seafood
- Drink fructose-sweetened beverages
- Drink alcohol — especially beer
- Use certain medications, including thiazide and low-dose aspirin
- Have a chronic condition, such as diabetes
- Recently underwent surgery or trauma
What Are the Best Treatments for Gout?
The expert podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists recommend the following when you have a gout attack:
- Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen
- Relax, ice, and elevate the joint
- Stay hydrated with healthy fluids
- Ask family and friends to help you complete tasks
Your Alliance Foot & Ankle specialist manages your acute gout attack with one or more of the following:
- Immobilizing the foot with a removable cast
- Crutches to take pressure off the foot
- Allopurinol or other drugs that lower uric acid levels
How Can I Prevent Gout?
You can prevent gout by adopting a healthier lifestyle that minimizes meat and alcohol and increases your intake of water and low-fat dairy. If you think you have gout, don’t delay treatment. Contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists.