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Educational Resources

What is Gout?

Did you know that your feet are vulnerable to arthritis, just like the rest of your body? In fact, your feet have a high risk of developing arthritis symptoms, mainly because they’re made up of 33 different joints. And, because mobility requires you to stay on your feet, developing any form of arthritis in your toe, foot or ankle joints can impact your ability to complete daily tasks or even to stay with your current job.

Here at Louetta Foot & Ankle Specialists, we often see patients with symptoms of arthritis in their feet. Past injuries or infections are sometimes to blame, as both these concerns can lead to arthritis later on in life. But, as podiatrists, there’s one painful form of arthritis that we see most often in our podiatric practice: gout.gout symptoms first show up around your big toe joint

Now, this type of arthritis is slightly different than other forms. It manifests in very characteristic ways, and attacks may flare up and enter remission periods, unlike other forms of arthritis in your feet. So, to help you identify and manage this potentially painful condition, we’re devoting today’s posts to identifying the symptoms, as well as tips for managing your gout so you can avoid disruptions to your everyday life.

Podiatric Arthritis Symptoms

Unlike other forms of arthritis, gout appears in sudden attacks, rather than in a slow onset. You can usually identify a gout attack because you’ll notice sudden, severe foot pain. Usually, this pain is localized around your big toe joint. Along with the pain, the area around your big toe may also develop swelling and tenderness. You will also likely notice the area at the base of your big toe become hot to the touch, and very red.

Many times, your gout attack will come on in the middle of the night, waking you up with pain so severe even the sheets against your foot cause unbearable pain. This is the point where we often get your panicked phone calls. And, we’re always here to help. But, we also know that you can manage your gout to avoid flare-ups.

Today, we know that preventing flares is extremely important. Why? Scientists at University of Nottingham and Keele University just discovered a scary link between gout flares and heart disease. Here’s what you need to do.

Gout Flares and Your Body: Cardiac Impacts

According to this study following 62,574 gout patients treated by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), 10,475 experienced a heart attack or stroke after diagnosis. Furthermore, gout patients who had a stroke or heart attack were twice as likely to have experienced a gout flare-up within the previous 60 days. And gout patients who died from cardiac causes? They were four times more likely to have had a recent gout flare.

Clearly, disease control can protect your overall health. Conversely, experiencing too many gout flares increases your risk for heart disease! So we’d like to share our treatment guidelines to help save you from the pain of another gout attack.

Understanding the Risk Factors

To help you understand why gout presents in flares, you first need a bit more information about this condition. Arthritic gout develops when uric acid builds up in your joints. Often, these build-ups can be attributed to your diet: eating purine-rich foods, including beer and turkey, can often trigger a gout attack. (It may not surprise you to learn that we see a lot of gout cases right after Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl.)

Now, as we reviewed, initial gout attacks are typically localized in your big toe joint. But if you don’t maintain good control of your gout, the condition can progress. In such cases, you may develop nodules in other areas of your body, including your feet, Achilles tendon, fingers, hands and elbows.

Treating Gout

Fortunately, with a comprehensive treatment plan, this form of foot arthritis is fairly easy to manage. We can recommend dietary changes to help you avoid rich foods. We can also guide you to a safe and effective exercise program that won’t compromise your joint health. This is crucial, since obesity increases your gout risk.

Additionally, if your symptoms of foot arthritis are impacting your mobility, we may fit you for custom orthotics, to help you move with greater ease and comfort.

After all, at our Spring and Tomball, TX podiatric offices, relieving your foot pain is our top priority. And we have a long history of accomplishing our goals. As Joseph H, a patient who only came to Louetta this year, recently shared, “After 2 years of foot pain I’ve finally found a doctor who has helped me. Dr. Walsh took the time to listen to my foot problems and diagnose it. She explained the diagnosis, and set a plan in motion to relieve the pain and correct the problem. Can’t explain what it has done for my foot pain. I’m now looking forward to being pain free or at the least manage it. Great Doctor, staff, and most of all they listen to your problem.”

What Doesn’t Work?

New Zealand’s University of Otago’s Prof. Lisa Stamp researched gout patients and their Vitamin C intake over an 8-week period. She found that taking Vitamin C did not lower urate levels to a ‘clinically satisfactory degree’.

She said, “Though Vitamin C may reduce risk of developing gout, our data does not support using Vitamin C as a therapy to lower uric acid levels.” In other words, Vitamin C can be helpful for preventative health, but it can’t treat existing disease.

Luckily, as we reflected earlier, we do have effective ways to relieve your gout pain and help prevent future flairs. And it’s our honor to help you walk comfortably. Especially when you’ve spent years hurting. But when it comes to conditions like gout, an early diagnosis is of the utmost importance. Don’t wait until your gout causes joint damage. Instead, schedule a consult at the first sign of a problem. This way, we can help you take your gout into remission, and prevent further painful flare-ups from interfering with your lifestyle.

Sources: Mayo Clinic