A form of arthritis that generally affects more men than women is referred to as gout. It typically targets the big toe, and common symptoms can include intense pain, swelling, and the toe may appear red or inflamed. This uncomfortable condition may be caused by elevated uric acid levels in the bloodstream. When specific types of foods are eaten, the uric acid levels may increase as a result of excess purines. These foods can include shellfish, red meat, and drinks that have large amounts of sugar. Crystals form in and around the joints of the feet, and this may cause severe pain. There can be existing health conditions that may lead to the development of gout. These can consist of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. If you are experiencing gout, it is strongly advised that you are under the care of a podiatrist who can properly treat this condition, and help you to implement a healthy lifestyle.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and tenderness in the joints. The condition usually affects the joint at the base of the big toe. A gout attack can occur at any random time, such as the middle of the night while you are asleep.
- Intense Joint Pain - Usually around the large joint of your big toe, and it most severe within the first four to twelve hours
- Lingering Discomfort - Joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks
- Inflammation and Redness -Affected joints may become swollen, tender, warm and red
- Limited Range of Motion - May experience a decrease in joint mobility
- Genetics - If family members have gout, you’re more likely to have it
- Medications - Diuretic medications can raise uric acid levels
- Gender/Age - Gout is more common in men until the age of 60. It is believed that estrogen protects women until that point
- Diet - Eating red meat and shellfish increases your risk
- Alcohol - Having more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases your risk
- Obesity - Obese people are at a higher risk for gout
Prior to visiting your podiatrist to receive treatment for gout, there are a few things you should do beforehand. If you have gout you should write down your symptoms--including when they started and how often you experience them, important medical information you may have, and any questions you may have. Writing down these three things will help your podiatrist in assessing your specific situation so that he or she may provide the best route of treatment for you.