Gout is the result of acidic crystals building up in a joint, this causes severe pain and swelling. Gout can occur in any joint in the body, but it is most commonly found in the big toe joint of middle aged men. Many patients notice that their big toe joint starts swelling and becoming difficult to move, the skin all around the big toe becomes shiny and bright red and that they cannot bear anything to touch the toe. As podiatrists we often see complaints of pain at the big toe joint however there are many differential diagnosis’s. With gout it is the excruciating pain and the tender inflamed toe that we are looking for to distinguish it from other problems.
Gout tends to attack in the night rapidly developing over a few hours. It usually will occur for 3-10 days and needs to be treated with medication. It is likely to come back due to the formation of the crystals however it is difficult to predict when an attack will occur.
The acidic crystals are called uric acid crystals. Uric acid is usually filtered out by the kidneys and excreted as urine, however if not enough uric acid is excreted microscopic crystals can form in and around the joints. The medication that is prescribed will reduce the levels of uric acid in the body to prevent crystallisation at the joints.
Unfortunately for middle aged men who regularly drink alcohol, eat red meat and eat a lot of sugary foods the likelihood of developing gout increases. Other medical conditions including: diabetes, kidney diseases, obesity, psoriasis and osteoarthritis can all increase the likelihood of developing gout.
If you have any concerns make an appointment today!
Top tips to reduce the risks of gout:
- Moderate intake of alcohol.
- Reduce sugar intake.
- Look after diabetes.
- Control blood pressure.
- Eat more vegetables.
- Decrease fruit juice intake.
- Increase exercise levels.