Treatment and Information


Gout is a complex illness. It is caused by deposits of crystallized uric acid in the joint. What is uric acid? Uric acid is the breakdown of purines- chemicals found naturally in our bodies and in food. It present in the blood and is eliminated in the urine. However, for people who have gout, the uric acid builds up and crystallizes in the joints. Some patients develop gout because they produce too much uric acid, and others because their kidneys have difficulty removing normal amounts of it.

It is most often found in the big toe because uric acid is sensitive to temperature changes. Uric acid turns into crystals at cooler temperatures. The big toe is the part of the body that is furthest away from the heart, so it is also the coolest part of the body. As a result, it’s the most likely area for gout to occur. However, it can affect any joint in the body.

Often it is an inherited condition, yet there are other factors that put a person at risk including: diabetes, chemotherapy, high blood pressure, obesity, stress, surgery, and certain vitamins and medications.

Foods and beverages that contain high levels of purines can trigger a gout attack. Patients with gout should limit or avoid beer, organ meats (liver, kidney, etc.), shellfish, red meat, and red wine.

Symptoms of Gout

An attack of gout can be very uncomfortable for the sufferer. Gout is usually marked by the following symptoms:

  • Intense and sudden pain
    Though usually found in the joints of your big toe, it can also occur in the feet, knees, hands, and wrists. It occurs most often in the middle of the night or upon waking in the morning. The pain is most severe within the first four to 12 hours of the attack.
  • Persistent discomfort
    After the severe pain ebbs, there may be some lasting discomfort for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
  • Inflammation and redness
    The affected joint will be swollen, extremely tender, warm, and red.
  • Reduced range of motion
    As gout progresses, one might find they have a decreased range of joint mobility.

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To diagnose gout, we will ask questions about your family and personal medical history. We will also thoroughly exam the affected joint. On occasion, lab tests and x-rays may be ordered to better determine if the inflammation is cause by gout or something else.

Treating Gout

The good news is, gout is treatable, and there are ways one can reduce the risk that it will recur. Gout attacks are initially treated in the following ways:

  • Dietary restrictions
    You will need to avoid foods and beverages high in purines because the body converts purines to uric acid.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
    You will need to drink plenty of water and other fluids each day to remain adequately hydrated. Alcoholic beverages cause dehydration and should be avoided.
  • Immobilize and elevate.
    When gout attacks, you need to give your foot a rest. Avoid standing and walking and elevate the foot (with it level to or slightly above the heart) to reduce swelling.
  • Medications or Injections
    We may prescribe medications or injections to treat the pain, inflammation, and swelling.

If gout symptoms continue despite the treatments outlined above, or if repeated attacks occur, you may need to see your primary care physician for treatment of any underlying problems that are not foot related, which may involve a daily medication.

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Feet shouldn’t hurt, and neither should their treatment. If you are experiencing foot pain or problems, then give us a call. The podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle will thoroughly examine your feet and evaluate your symptoms to better understand your condition.