When we think of gout, we often immediately assume that it is something that only our grandparents or the elderly get, that it will never happen to us! Truth be told, gout is more common in your forties and fifties, and it occurs more in males.
Gout is caused a build-up of uric acid crystals in the body. This is a normal substance in our bodies but if you have too much, these crystals can collect in the joints in your body causing severe pain, swelling and redness. The big toe joint is the most commonly affected joint in the foot, however, other joints can be affected.
Gout usually comes on very quickly, with no prior injury or trauma. Most people simply complain that they wake up and their foot is very painful and swollen. Often I will hear patients complain that even the bed sheets resting against their skin causes immense pain! Some patients even describe it as a hot knife in their foot.
Several other conditions can look just like gout, such as infection, so it is very important to see a medical professional immediately, especially if you are diabetic. An injury such as sprain or fracture could also cause similar symptoms.
While men most commonly get gout, women who are post-menopausal are also susceptible. Certain foods such as steak, organ meats and seafood may cause gout. Other foods that promote higher levels of uric acid, such as alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar may cause it as well. I have treated many patients this summer that contracted gout following a backyard BBQ with a few beers.
How to treat it:
–RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may help decrease the symptoms of gout. You doctor may also prescribe an oral steroid medication or give a steroid injection which often provides fast relief. You may also need to wear a walking boot for a week or two to give your foot a rest while you heal.
One of the most important things you can do for gout prevention is to closely monitor your diet. Avoiding high consumption of red meats, seafood and alcohol will often help. Once the gout has resolved, your doctor may want to put you on a long term medication to prevent it from coming back.
If you are experiencing a gout attack, call our office right away at 859-264-1411 or make an online appointment. There are medications that can significantly shorten the attack. If left untreated, you could be in pain for several days or maybe even weeks.