Gout is a type of arthritis which develops because of high levels of uric acid in the blood. This acid can build up and form crystals, which can then cause joint pain. Although the great toe joint is the most commonly affect joint, gout can cause pain in various other joints in the foot and ankle.
The condition can cause severe episodes of tenderness, swelling, pain, redness, and warmth. When the uric acid levels in the blood continue to be high, one can develop chronic gout. The attacks can become more frequent and may not go away with the usual treatment. Gout is more common among men. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes can increase your risk of developing the condition.
Gout is more likely to develop if:
- A family member has gout
- You take diuretics or immune-suppressing medications
- You eat larger amounts of shellfish and red meat
- You drink more than two alcoholic beverages a day
- You are overweight or obese
- You drink sodas or sugary drinks which contain fructose
When someone is suffering from an acute gout attack, the goal is to try to get the swelling and pain under control. To help relieve symptoms patients should:
- Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, drink lots of water instead
- Eat less meat and seafood
- Ice and elevate the affected joint
- Relax as stress can make it worse
- Take an anti-inflammatory drug as soon as you can
- Ask for help with tasks if necessary
- Call the doctor to make an appointment
Corticosteroids are also used to treat the inflammation and can be taken orally or injected into the affected joint. Medications which lower uric acid levels are also available. Blood work may be necessary to evaluate blood levels of uric acid. If you are dealing with gout, contact the office to go over treatment plans with the doctor.