If you’re dealing with a bout of gout, you might be a little frustrated. Believe me, we know the pain you’re experiencing—it’s intense. That’s why we wanted to create a list to let you know just how much we hate this complicated arthritic condition. We hope it helps you cope and also gives you relief knowing that you can come to McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group for help when you need it.
1. Gout attacks make your feet feel like they’re on fire.
This painful condition is caused by extra uric acid built up in your system. The acid is a result of a breakdown of purines. Uric acid normally passes through your system without issue; however, sometimes your body produces too much or doesn’t eliminate enough uric acid from your blood. When this happens, the acid builds up and creates small, needle-like crystals in the joints of your feet, usually involving the big toe joint. It can also show up around the ankles and heels.
Immense pain sears the joint where the crystals collect for the first 12 to 24 hours. The joint can also become inflamed, swollen, red, and tender.
2. Pain can last for days, or even weeks.
Whenever you experience a sudden attack, you should seek a doctor’s help immediately. This is a progressive condition, so the pain will be stronger and last longer the next time it occurs. Without prompt treatment, you risk experiencing further pain and increased joint damage.
After your initial treatment, know that the discomfort around your joint may last for a little while. The symptoms will linger for a few days and the pain will continue to taper in severity, eventually ending after a few weeks.
3. It can happen to anyone.
A lot of people are at risk for developing this disease. Gout especially affects men between the ages of 40 and 50, because their uric acid production is high. Women are also more susceptible after menopause. However, most children and young adults don’t encounter the condition.
As far as lifestyle choices go, people who drink excessively put themselves at a higher risk, as well as those who eat food rich in purines, like certain types of fish and meat.
Conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes are also causes. Make sure to check your prescription medication and family history, too, because these factors also make you more prone to inflamed, painful joints.
4. The condition is difficult to diagnose.
Sometimes, the symptoms can be quite vague. A lot of other conditions affect the joint of the big toe, like joint infections, making it hard to pinpoint the exact cause of inflammation, swelling, and pain. However, it’s important to get a diagnosis so you know how to make the pain go away, especially if it’s gout. That’s where a podiatrist can help you. They can take samples of the fluid around your blood and examine them for uric crystals. Once the condition has been diagnosed, your treatment will most likely include medications to treat and prevent attacks.
You might be able to tell it’s gout if the pain and swelling is only attacking one joint, often in the toe or ankle. However, it might be hard to distinguish if you’re trying to compare it to another condition that occurs only in one joint. If that’s the case, watch for the suddenness of the symptoms. This condition will often attack suddenly, without notice. It also likes to strike at night.
5. Gout is caused by eating foods and drinks, like seafood, meats, and alcohol, which are high in purines.
Food plays a big part in preventing and treating this problem. All those rich foods you enjoy during the holidays, including gravy, red meats and poultry, and seafood like scallops can cause extra uric acid to build up. Limit your intake of these foods and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead. Drink plenty of fluids, at least 2 liters a day, to keep the symptoms away.
Don’t let a gout attack keep you down. If you’re experiencing acute symptoms, make an appointment with McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434. Our office in Carmichael, CA, can also be found on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook!
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