What is Gout ?

Your foot health can be greatly affected by what is going on in the rest of your body.  Gout is a condition that illustrates this principle.   Gout occurs when high levels of uric acid in the body cause a buildup of uric acid crystals to be deposited in a joint.  This can occur in any joint in the body, but the big toe joint is one of the most common places where crystals accumulate.  The crystal deposits create a very painful, red, swollen joint.  Acute gout occurs as a sudden onset of pain, often in the middle of the night.  The affected area can be so tender that the bed sheets rubbing across the foot can cause extreme pain.
There are several reasons for a buildup of uric acid in the body.  The body may make too much uric acid, or it may have difficulty getting rid of uric acid.  Gout can occur as an isolated condition, or it can be potentiated by other health conditions, including diabetes and obesity.  Gout can also be triggered by diet and lifestyle factors.  Alcohol use and certain foods, such as red meat and foods high in fat, increase uric acid levels in the body.

The buildup of uric acid without any other symptoms is known as asymptomatic gout.  Acute gout starts when symptoms appear.  Symptoms may disappear for several months or even years, but they usually recur.  They may recur in the same joint and may begin to involve other joints as well.  The period in between acute attacks is known as inter-critical gout.

Chronic gout occurs when patients suffer from repeated attacks of gout.  Chronic gout is serious, and repeated attacks can cause permanent joint damage and bony changes.
Acute attacks of gout can be managed by an anti-inflammatory drug and pain reliever prescribed by your podiatrist.  Then patients are often prescribed a drug to manage the uric acid levels in the body, in order to prevent another attack from occurring.  Those who suffer from gout can help prevent another attack by avoiding food triggers and decreasing alcohol intake.

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