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Gout: A Painful Joint Inflammation

If you have a flare-up of gout in your big toe you will know it – and it’s unlikely that you’ll forget it.

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by urate crystals accumulating in a joint, resulting in inflammation and intense pain. These crystals develop when your blood has a high level of uric acid. Certain foods promote higher levels of uric acid including seafood, organ meats and steak as well as alcoholic drinks and drinks sweetened with fructose.

If your body produces too much uric acid or your kidneys do not excrete enough, this acid builds up and forms the needle-like urate crystals that form in a joint. When this happens, the pain is usually sudden and often occurs at night. Most often the large toe of the big joint is affected but it can also occur in other joints in the feet as well as the knees, ankles, hands and wrists.

The severe pain will dissipate but you will experience some joint discomfort for some time. The affected joints will be tender, swollen and warm and you will have decreased joint mobility.

Risk Factors for Gout

You’re more likely to have a build-up of uric acid in your body if you:

  • Eat lots of meat and seafood.
  • Drink alcohol – especially beer – or drinks sweetened with fructose.
  • Are overweight.
  • Have diabetes, heart or kidney diseases or untreated high blood pressure.
  • Take certain medications like low-dose aspirin or some diuretics.
  • Have a family history of gout.
  • Are male or a woman past menopause.

Gout Treatment

If you have intense and sudden pain in your big toe or another foot joint, call Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM right away. Left untreated, gout can lead to more flare-ups and joint damage. We’ll do a joint fluid test to check for the urate crystals and also take x-rays to rule out other causes of joint inflammation.

The most effective treatment for gout is medication that will both relieve the symptoms from an attack and prevent further flare-ups. We will discuss a range of medications based on your current health status and your preferences.

Prevent Gout Attacks with Lifestyle Changes

Dietary changes can help prevent gout attacks:

  • Stay well-hydrated with plenty of water. Don’t drink too many sweetened drinks especially those with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid alcohol especially beer.
  • Limit the amount of meat, fish and poultry you eat.
  • Increase your intake of low-fat dairy products which provide protein and which may have a protective effect against gout.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

Visit Us for Help with Gout Pain

Gout will not go away on its own. Contact Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist for help with gout pain and inflammation. Please call us at our Chicago office at 773-561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. We can help with foot and ankle pain of any kind.