Gout, a form of arthritis, is caused by too much uric acid accumulating in the joints and forming crystals. Although uric acid occurs normally in the body, in some patients we see at Superior Foot & Ankle Center with gout the body doesn’t eliminate uric acid properly and in others the body overproduces uric acid. In either case, the end result is the same: an extremely painful attack, most often in the big toe, characterized by throbbing, swelling, extreme tenderness and a burning sensation in the joint that lasts for several hours. It is common for the pain to come on in the middle of the night. Gout strikes men more frequently than women and once you’ve had an attack it’s likely that it will recur in the same toe again. If you’ve suffered a gout attack, our board certified foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas can prescribe medication to help. There are, however, preventative measures you can take to help reduce the risk of future attacks:
- Avoid foods known to trigger gout. These include: red meat, fatty poultry, shellfish, and rich sauces.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink lots of water in particular to help flush the uric acid out of your system.
- Increase the amount of low-fat dairy you consume. There is evidence that foods in this category may actually help protect against gout.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Beer, red wine and brandy are all known triggers of gout and there is some thought that alcohol in general may be a trigger.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. One reason gout is thought to strike the big toe is because of the excessive amount of force the toe sustains as you walk. The less you weigh the less pressure on the joint. There is also evidence that losing weight may cause uric acid levels in your body to decrease. Do it gradually, however, as rapidly losing weight has been shown to have the opposite effect.