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 natural by-product of some of the foods that we eat.

 

What are the symptoms?

In the foot if you have an ‘attack’ of gout, this will typically affect the big toe joint or ankle joint and produces a sudden and extreme pain in the joint. The joint can also become swollen, red and inflamed.

 

Other symptoms of gout include:

  • Red, shiny skin
  • The area feeling hot and tender
  • Swelling around the joint
  • Itchy, peeling and flaky skin

 

Intense pain from gout can make walking almost impossible.  A night even the lightest pressure from a bed-sheet 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. Watching your alcohol intake can also help because it has a diuretic effect which can contribute to dehydration. Avoid purine rich foods like organ meats and shellfish, which can affect the uric acid levels in the blood.

 

Treating gout

It is important to get the right diagnosis for your foot pain.  Infection in a joint can present with very similar symptoms and so it is important that you get your symptoms checked out quickly by a doctor.

Typically, the uric acid levels in your blood are not raised for 7-10 days after an attack and so depending on when your blood levels are check, the diagnosis can be missed.  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 build-up in the joints and a gout attack.