Dating back to the Babylonian Empire, gout has often been called the “king of diseases and the disease of kings.” The reason for this label is that it is a disease that tops the list for painful symptoms and has often been thought to be caused by an overindulgence in food and wine, which in history, was often available to those in the “higher class.” While it is true that diet is related, the rich are not the only people prone to this condition. It can strike anyone—most commonly among males—and it usually appears between the ages of 40 and 50. Gout is a complex form of arthritis and is progressive, meaning that it can become severe without treatment. Don’t let this information pass you by—understand this condition and learn what you can do to keep it under control.
Similar to how a lion lurks in the tall grass, waiting for the right time to pounce on its prey, a gout attack can feel as though your joint is under a surprise attack—and it hurts! Gout is a complex type of arthritis that is caused by extra uric acid built up in your blood. The acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of a protein substance called purines. Typically, uric acid efficiently passes through your system and is filtered out of your blood through your kidneys. There are times when your body produces too much or the acid isn’t eliminated and the levels build up. This excess acid is the root cause behind gout and the result is the formation of small, sharp crystals in the joints of your feet. It most often happens within the joint of the big toe, but the ankles and heels are also vulnerable.
Attacks of gout are very painful. If you have had one in the past, you can probably attest to the surprise, searing pain that comes on. It can be so painful that some patients describe it as being comparable being stabbed with tiny burning needles. It is not a condition to take lightly. Intense pain can attack the joint all of a sudden—for reasons unknown, it commonly develops in the middle of the night. The pain is the worst during the first 12-24 hours, and you may notice your toe become red, swollen, and very tender to the touch. You may feel excruciating discomfort and find that even a light bed sheet on your toe is unbearable. These sensations often diminish, but can still linger on for one to two weeks.
Going on the Defense
It is important to seek treatment as soon as an attack happens. Gout is a progressive condition, which means that it can continue to get worse and attacks can last longer if it isn’t treated properly. Over time, this condition can damage your joint structures and develop in other places. There is no need to white-knuckle this condition and just bear with the symptoms until they go away.
After we confirm that your discomfort is indeed from gout, we can create a treatment plan completely tailored to your needs. Treatment options may include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, direct injections of corticosteroids, and lifestyle modifications that can make episodes less likely to occur. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the uric acid in the blood and regular exercise encourages good circulation and organ functions. Diet also plays a major role in limiting the amount of purines in your body and preventing an attack. Foods high in purines will contribute to higher uric acid levels and are the ones to avoid. Waukesha Foot Specialists can provide a detailed list to help you create a proper diet plan, but some of the foods to avoid include red meat, most seafood, high-fat dairy products, sugary foods and sodas, and alcohol. We can also provide you with a list of foods that are beneficial when managing this condition.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with joint pain from gout, don’t suffer when there is help available. Untreated gout can come back and cause more pain and joint damage. Contact Drs. Amy Miller-Guhl and David Guhlat Waukesha Foot Specialists to stay pain free. Call our office in Waukesha, WI at (262) 544-0700 for an appointment today.