Gout is known for its sneak attack. Sneak attacks are called that because you don’t see them coming. This element of surprise is an advantage for anyone on the ambushing side. If you’re the one feeling the pain, however, the surprise is a disadvantage. You feel the ache with no way of knowing that it’s coming. That’s the problem with gouty arthritis—it strikes suddenly and leaves you struggling to recover.
Gout is a type of arthritis, which means it creates painful inflammation and deterioration in your joints. Any joint in your body can develop gout problems, but the big toe is the one most commonly affected. The issue builds up slowly without symptoms at first. Then, the condition and its pain erupt suddenly, striking without warning and debilitating you.
The problem is actually caused by sharp uric acid crystals forming and collecting in the space between two bones. Your body creates this acid when it breaks down purines in your food. When you have too much uric acid in your blood, it can crystalize into needle-like formations that accumulate in the big toe or other joints. From there, the many sharp points irritate your joint tissues, causing painful swelling and inflammation. Treatment can restore the toe to normal, but the problem can recur, thereby repeatedly damaging the tissues over time.
Usually gout attacks happen at night. You can be completely pain free, even sleeping, at one moment and awake with excruciating toe discomfort the next. The pain is sharp and tends to be at its worst in the first twelve or so hours that it manifests. The affected joint will appear red and swollen, as well as feel warm to the touch. It will probably be very tender as well, so even the weight of bed sheets or your socks may feel uncomfortable. Typically, the pain decreases after the initial flare up, but lingers for anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Gout left untreated tends to create longer attacks that affect additional joints.
Anyone can develop gout in any joint, but some people have a particularly high risk. People who are overweight or consume high amounts of meat, seafood, alcohol, or fructose sugar are more likely to have high levels of uric acid. Some medical conditions that affect circulation or your kidneys, like diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease, increase your risk for the problem. Some medications may even play a role. You’re also more likely to develop the issue if it runs in your family, you’re male, or you’re middle-aged.
Treating the Damage and Preventing Future Ambushes
You’ll need to have your gouty arthritis accurately diagnosed to get the best treatment. Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen and the team will need to examine your painful joints. Our staff may use diagnostic images or other tests to look for tissue damage and check the uric acid levels in your blood. Once the condition is confirmed, we will help you begin treatment.
Keep your toe as still as possible while you recover. In most cases, you will need medication to help manage the pain and control the condition. These medications can decrease the inflammation as well as address the uric acid levels in your body. Icing the toe during an attack may also help with the discomfort. Once the symptoms have subsided, you’ll need to begin preventative care.
This typically means a diet change. Since uric acid comes from breaking down purines in your food, maintaining a low-purine diet can help control and prevent a gout attack. You’ll need to limit the amount of seafood and meat you consume and cut back on your fat intake. You’ll need to avoid alcohol altogether and minimize the fructose in your diet. Instead, eat whole grains, protein from plants, and lots of vegetables.
Gout may be able to ambush you, but you can still fight back. Get help and regain control of your joints. Podiatry Associates, P.C. can help. Contact our offices in Castle Pines or Parker, CO, for an appointment with our team right away. You can use our web request form, or call (303) 805-5156 for immediate contact.
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