What is gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a build up of crystals of uric acid in joints. Uric acid is a product of purines which are found in many of the foods that we eat. An abnormality in the way that your body handles uric acid and the crystallisation of the compounds in the joints is what actually causes gout. If you do have this, you may experience attacks of very painful arthritis, kidney stones and blockages of the tubes in your kidneys which can lead to kidney failure. Although gout is considered as a medical illness from history, it is still very present today and is the most frequently recorded medical illness throughout human history.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of gout is a very sudden and severe pain in a joint. A joint that is typically affected by gout is the big toe, but it can affect any joint including fingers, knees, ankles, toes, midfoot, elbows and wrists.
Other symptoms of gout include:
- Red, shiny skin
- The area feeling hot and tender
- Swelling around the joint
- Itchy, peeling and flaky skin
The intense pain from gout can make walking almost impossible, even the lightest pressure from a blanket, for example, can be unbearable.
Are you at risk?
Excessive weight gain, obesity, moderate to heavy alcohol intake, abnormal kidney function and high blood pressure are some of the risk factors for developing gout. Certain medical conditions and drugs for other conditions can also increase levels of uric acid in the joint and cause gout. Many people who suffer from gout also experience abnormally low thyroid hormone levels.
Preventing gout attacks
Maintaining a healthy fluid intake can help prevent gout attacks. Steering clear of alcohol can also help because it has a diuretic effect which can contribute to dehydration. Alcohol can also alter uric acid metabolism and slow down the excretion of it from the kidneys; this causes dehydration once again, but also causes uric acid crystals to form and eventually, gout. Dietary changes can also help prevent gout. By avoiding purine rich foods like organ meats and shellfish, you can reduce the level of uric acid in the blood.
Medications can help to treat the swelling and pain from gout attacks. These medications include anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and corticosteroids. Other medications can help to decrease the levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, thus preventing uric acid buildup in the joints and a gout attack. Other treatments for gout include the prevention methods discussed above, a change in diet and staying hydrated, for example.
There’s more research being done into gout at the moment, and we will be sure to keep you updated on any results that come out. If you would like our help with treating gout in your feet, then please feel free to get in touch. We will be happy to help. If you are unsure that you have gout after reading this article, please take a look at the other blog posts on here as we have a massive library of posts about common foot conditions found in the UK.