If you have pain and noticeable swelling around your big toe or other joint in your foot, then you could have a common, but easily treated, condition called gout. Gout is potentially debilitating and can even lead to permanent joint or kidney damage, so you shouldn't ignore it. Here is more information about gout, how it is treated, and how you can prevent it so that you can keep on your feet.
What Is Gout?
Gout is actually a form of arthritis where uric acid builds up in your joints. Uric acid is a byproduct of breaking down a natural substance called purines, but it is usually flushed out the body by the kidneys. However, if you overload your system, or you have other risk factors, your kidneys may not be able to keep up.
Who Gets Gout?
Anyone can get gout at any age, but mostly older people are at higher risk. You are also at higher risk if you eat a lot of processed meat, especially organ meat, drink a lot of high fructose beverages, or drink a lot of beer. Also, if you are overweight, inactive, and take certain medications, you are at a higher risk of gout.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
With gout, the affected joint will noticeably swell up and become red and extremely painful, even at night. You might find wearing tight shoes difficult. The pain may come and go over time, but is usually worse in the beginning. Sometimes, the condition will go away, but come back later. Because of the uric buildup, you may also experience kidney frequent kidney stones.
How is Gout Treated?
For short-term pain relief, NSAIDs can often help with the pain and swelling. If your case is more severe and chronic, then you may also be prescribed medications to lower your uric acid. You will possibly need to change your diet, especially if that is determined to be the cause. For severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Can Gout Be Prevented?
If you are at higher risk for gout, then one of the best ways to prevent it is by eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to limit processed meats as well as sugary drinks and beer. Maintain a good, healthy weight and drink plenty of water.
Because gout shares symptoms with other types of foot problems, you should see a podiatrist for a precise diagnosis. Do not try to self-treat this condition if you don't know if you have it for sure. Any time you feel foot pain, especially to the point that you cannot stand or walk, then seek medical advice of a podiatrist and have your feet examined.