One of the oldest known medical conditions, gout remains an intensely painful and debilitating condition that affects millions of Americans every year. While gout can manifest itself in various parts of the body, it is most common in the lower extremities, especially the big toe. As awful as gout can feel, however, it can usually be effectively treated, with pain and other symptoms receding in a relatively short time.
What Is Gout?
Our blood contains a substance called uric acid that is usually eliminated in urine. Gout develops when the body overproduces, or has difficulty getting rid of, uric acid which then builds-up and crystallizes in tissues or joints. The body’s inflammatory reaction to these crystals is what causes the pain and swelling that define gout.
Approximately five to six million Americans and about one to two percent of the world’s population suffer from gout, which develops more in men than women, especially as they get older.
Gout most often develops in the big toe. Being farthest from the heart, the big toe is the coolest part of our bodies. Uric acid is more likely to crystallize at cooler temperatures, which is why the big toe is the most frequent location of the condition.
Symptoms and Risk Factors for Lower Extremity Gout
The primary symptoms that may indicate that you have gout include:
- Sudden, intense pain that often develops in the middle of the night or upon getting up
- Inflammation, redness, swelling, and warmth over the affected joint
A podiatrist can evaluate your condition and determine whether you have gout by conducting a thorough examination of your foot, which may include lab tests and x-rays. Your doctor may also ask you about your family history as well as questions about your lifestyle habits. That is because of the risk factors that increase the odds of developing gout, which include:
- Family history
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- A diet high in purines, such as from red meat and seafood
- Metabolic syndrome
Treatment For Lower Extremity Gout
Often, conservative approaches are all that are needed to resolve gout and its associated symptoms. This includes:
- Prescription medications to treat pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Dietary changes that reduce consumption of foods high in purines as well as the avoidance of alcohol.
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other (non-alcoholic) fluids.
- Immobilizing and elevating the affected foot.
If these treatments fail to provide relief, or if repeated episodes of gout pain continue to develop, surgery may ultimately be needed to fully address the buildup of uric acid and prevent arthritic damage to the joint.
Gout Pain? We Can Help. Call JAWSpodiatry Today.
If you are dealing with pain, swelling, or other issues related to gout, the experienced and caring podiatrists at JAWSpodiatry can help. Located in Hollywood, Florida, we employ the most advanced and non-invasive techniques to reduce foot and ankle pain and speed recovery. Please call us today at (954) 922-7333 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.