Gout is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis which affects the joints. Although it can impact the joints of your wrists, fingers, and elbows, it is the joints at the base of the big toe and the ankles which are mainly affected.

Gout attacks happen suddenly, and in most
cases, the affected joint is tender, red, and swollen, and can be extremely
painful.

If left untreated, a person can suffer
from repeated attacks of gout. Men and obese adults over the age of thirty are
at a greater risk of developing gout.

Symptoms
of Gout

Gout flare-ups can happen suddenly, and in
most cases, the attacks occur at night. However, there are certain early warning
signs of a potential gout attack. Common symptoms of gout include:

  • Intense
    pain at the affected joint.
  • Inflammation,
    redness, or purplish discoloration of the skin.
  • Tenderness
    at the joint.
  • A
    sensation of warmth.
  • Limited
    movement in the affected joint.

In severe cases, gout can even lead to a
high fever.

What
causes gout?

Gout is caused when there is a build-up of
uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a waste product routinely
disposed of by the body through urine.

In some patients, however, the body starts
producing uric acid faster than the rate at which it is disposed. When this
happens, uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints.

Heredity
and Other Factors Causing Gout

Gout can run in the family although the
exact genetic link is not known. A person suffering from kidney disease can
develop gout. In some patients, common medications such as aspirin can
interfere with the normal process of disposing uric acid from the body, leading
to a build-up.

On top of this, there are certain other
medical and non-medical factors which can lead to gout. These include:

  • Diabetes
    and obesity.
  • Sickle
    cell anemia.
  • Excessive
    consumption of alcohol (one of the organs which is affected by excessive
    alcohol consumption is the kidneys which produce urine – uric acid is disposed
    from the body through urine).
  • Consuming
    foods that are rich in purine
    (a substance naturally produced by the
    body which when broken down convert to uric acid).

How
is gout treated?

Although gout is a very painful condition,
the good news is that it is easily treated. The treatment process for gout
involves reducing the uric acid levels in the body, reducing pain and
inflammation and the other associated symptoms of gout, and preventing further
attacks.

  • Your
    doctor will prescribe a medication that is used to decrease inflammation
    (typically a prescription grade medication like colchicine or indomethacin).
    These must be monitored and usually doctors will order laboratory tests.  
  • Additionally,
    increasing clear fluid intake and urine output is an important part of
    clearing out an acute attack of gout. 
  • If
    the inflammation is severe, the doctor might recommend corticosteroid
    injections for the affected joint.
  • The
    patient will also be advised to stay off their feet and use cold compresses to
    help reduce swelling.
  • In
    severe cases, surgery might be recommended to remove the deposit of uric acid
    crystals from the affected joint.

Acute
Gout vs. Chronic Gout

Acute gout is
different than usually chronic gout. Acute gout attacks are handled using the
treatments listed above. However, for those who have a more chronic issues with
gout, long term management may be necessary. Chronic sufferers will often need
medication that can help prevent the frequent attacks.

Dietary
Changes Can Help Control Gout Attacks

In addition to medication, making certain
dietary changes, which include either completely avoiding or at the very least
limiting the consumption of specific foods, can also help in controlling gout
flare-ups. Dietary restrictions for preventing gout include:

  • Avoiding
    or limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages and foods that are protein-rich
    or high in purines like beans, peas, organ meats, and red meats. These aid in
    uric acid build-up. 
  • Patients
    suffering from gout are advised to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to
    help flush out uric acid from the body.

Not
Smart to Ignore

If you notice any of the above-mentioned
symptoms of gout, consult with a foot and ankle specialist to seek an accurate
diagnosis and proper treatment as soon as possible. As mentioned above, if gout
is left untreated, it can lead to repeated flare-ups.

Ignoring gout can also
result in a long-term, painful arthritis called gouty arthritis. Gouty
arthritis destroys the normal joint surfaces and erodes the cartilage and bone
within the joint and cannot be cured. Additionally, gout can be deposited in
the soft tissues especially near tendons. This can lead to tendon damage. 

Consult
with Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle

Are you suffering from gout? Are you looking for relief from pain and effective treatment for preventing gout? We at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle can help you. Connect with us here or give us a call today to set up an appointment! We want to hear from you!