Have you ever had a red, hot, swollen big toe that came on over night and is excruciating to touch? Initially you may think infection but you don’t recall stubbing it or having any kind of cut to let the infection in. Another, consideration should be gout. Gout is a historic disease that was commonly associated among the wealthy due to the availability of rich-type foods and alcohol filled with purines. Our body uses purines to build DNA, so they are necessary for life; however, a buildup of these purines will cause uric acid levels to rise and deposit uric acid crystals in joints, most commonly the big toe joint. What we call gout today, Egyptian’s in 2640 B.C. called podagra and Hippocrates called “the unwalkable disease.” This disease has been around for a very long time.
As mentioned above gout results from the deposits of uric acid crystals in tissues within the body. It commonly appears in men around the 4th and 5th decade of life, but later in women. Below are common symptoms and risk factors for gout.
- Inflammation, severe pain, redness or warmth at the affected site
- With chronic gout, pain may be more achy and sore
- Limited mobility of the affected joint
- The big toe joint is the most common site of attack
- Alcohol consumption (high purines)
- Consuming a large amount of meat and seafood (high purines)
- The use of diuretics
- Poor kidney function
- Obesity or being overweight
Treatment for an acute gouty attack typically includes anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen), Colchicine, and/or corticosteroids to help relieve the swelling and pain. Managing additional gouty attacks will include medications that block the production of uric acid or increase excretion. Some lifestyle changes that can help decrease gout flare-ups include limiting alcohol and red meats, exercising on a regular basis, maintaining proper weight, and drinking plenty of water.
An attack of gout can strike more then once. It is important to take treatment and prevention seriously. If you notice any changes your foot health, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.