Gout: Its Causes and Treatments

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How to Identify and Treat Gout

For many people, a life full of “extremes” is a highly enjoyable one. Just ask the lovers of extreme sports, foods, or fitness. However, it’s another thing altogether when it comes to the element of extreme pain. Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, can be the cause of such intense pain that the result is debilitating. Along with swelling and redness, the excruciating pain often initially occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe, but it can attack other joints as well. This attack can flare-up without warning in the middle of the night, or strike suddenly upon rising out of bed in the morning.

What Causes it?

Unfortunately, gout is hardly an uncommon condition. It affects millions, about 4% of the nation’s adult population, and occurs more often in men ages 40 to 60. Women are also at risk however, and are especially susceptible to developing gout after menopause.

So, what causes the disease? To sum it up, gout is caused by an excess amount of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced when chemicals called purines, which are naturally found in the body and in certain foods, are broken down. In a normal situation, the uric acid would merely be dissolved in the body or passed through into urine. However, when too much is being produced or an insufficient amount is being eliminated by the kidneys, the uric acid then accumulates and crystallizes. These urate crystals are sharp and can cause inflammation and pain as they form in the joint.

Common Risk Factors

The tendency to develop gout can be linked to several different factors. One example being that the painful disease may occur due to genetics and a family history. Diet can also play a big part in gout flare-ups. Consuming certain foods and drinks that contain high levels of purines, like red meat, shellfish, and alcohol can lead to the formation of urate crystals. Other possible contributors to gout include:

  • Obesity
  • Certain medications like diuretics and aspirin
  • Age & gender
  • Other health issues such as diabetes and high-blood pressure
  • Chemotherapy
  • Trauma or recent surgery

Treatment

While it’s true that the symptoms of gout can be extremely painful, the good news is that it is a treatable and controllable condition. While many attacks of gout last about 10 days before disappearing, it’s important to seek treatment early on so that uric acid levels can be monitored and steps can be taken to prevent the disorder from worsening.

After examining the affected joint, a podiatrist or doctor typically runs a few tests to make sure that uric acid/urate crystals are the cause of the symptoms and then proceed with different treatment steps.

Most often, medications are prescribed to alleviate the pain associated with this type of arthritis, and to reduce possible gout complications like kidney stones. Lifestyle changes and other methods may also prevent painful gout flare-ups or the condition occurring in the first place. These can include:

  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Limiting meat and fish consumption
  • Keeping hydrated with water and other fluids
  • Elevation to relieve inflammation
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Treatment and preventative measures really are key, because otherwise, gout may result in the inability to wear shoes and socks because of the inflammation and soreness, or reoccurring attacks of burning pain and even joint damage.

Gout Pain Relief With Superior Care

The truth is that gout is no laughing matter. Instead, it’s the source of one extreme that better left off of life’s to-do list; pain. If you are experiencing attacks of gout, or another type of foot problem, request an appointment with Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center in Los Angeles today. Together, our team of experienced foot doctors and staff strive to help each patient achieve feet that are both healthy and happy, to the extreme.