Gout is one of the many types of arthritis. It is more common in men and presents itself as a sudden, severe attack of burning pain, stiffness with associated swelling that typically affects the big toe joint. An attack of gout can wake you up in the middle of the night with the feeling that your big toe is on fire. Even the weight from the bed sheets may make it unbearable. An attack may last a few days or linger on for many weeks before the pain and inflammation subsides. This can happen repeatedly if gout is left untreated. Over time it may cause damage to your joints, tendons and even other organs in your body. Gout is caused by higher than normal levels of uric acid in your blood. Urate crystals then accumulate and get deposited within the affected joint causing pain, swelling and inflammation.
Uric acid is produced naturally within your body when it breaks down purines. Purines are commonly found in the foods and drinks that we consume throughout the day. Certain foods like seafood, organ meats (chopped liver), and steaks contain higher levels of purines. Beer, red wine and alcoholic beverages can also contribute to having an increased chance of getting a gouty attack. The use of diuretics commonly used to treat high blood pressure can create higher levels of uric acid as well.
Your podiatrist may send you for a simple blood test or remove a sample of fluid from the joint and send it to a pathology lab to be analyzed to look for uric acid crystals. X-rays are sometimes helpful in the later stages of the disease to check the quality of the bones being affected by the disorder. Fortunately, once your diagnosis is confirmed, the condition is both treatable and preventable. To stop a gout attack your doctor may prescribe certain medications to alleviate the pain and inflammation process. In more advanced cases a shot of corticosteroids may have to be administered. Please consult Dr. Frenchman if you are experiencing these types of signs and symptoms in your foot today by contacting our office for an appointment.