Ever wake up abruptly at night by a hot, painful feeling in your big toe or ankle? Does the joint feel painful and appear red and inflamed? These can all be signs of a gout attack. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. Be sure to seek treatment upon onset, otherwise it can lead to painful foot deformity and even kidney problems. Early treatment with medication and a proper diet can relieve the joint pain. In severe cases of foot deformity, surgery may be a required.
Gout is a disorder of uric acid metabolism, leading to increased uric acid (waste product) in the blood. The excess uric acid forms hard crystals in the joints, inducing a gout attack. Perpetual gout attacks lead to large deposits of chalky crystals called tophi.
Men are more predisposed to gout than women, but women are more likely to get affected after menopause. The chances of getting gout are increased if you are overweight and have high cholesterol, drink too much alcohol, and/or eat too much meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines. Some medications, such as diuretics (“water pills”) can also induce gout.
Your podiatrist will ask you questions about your symptoms. He or she will ask about your diet, medications, and how much alcohol you consume. This will be followed by a physical examination of your feet for signs of gout, which include inflammation, heat, and redness.
He or she may then perform a joint fluid test by using a needle to draw fluid from your affected joint. This fluid will be analyzed for crystals. Your podiatrist may also take a blood sample to measure the uric acid level in your blood.
Treatment for gout usually requires medication. To relieve the pain and swelling associated with gout, your podiatrist may prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) to stop an acute attack, followed by a lower daily dose to prevent future attacks. Also, your podiatrist can give you a pill or injection form of corticosteroids to help with the gout symptoms. If complications occur, you can also be prescribed xanthine oxidase inhibitors (which limit the amount of uric acid your body produces) at the discretion of your podiatrist. Based on your past and current medical history, he or she will decide which medications would be best suited for you.
With that said, if you experience pain and discomfort with your gout, be sure to schedule an appointment to further seek professional care from one of our doctors at Foot Care Associates in Hackettstown, New Jersey.
By Kyle Alessi