Gout: Definition, Causes, and Treatment
Gout, often referred to as the “disease of kings” due to its historical association with rich diets, is a form of inflammatory arthritis that can cause excruciating pain and discomfort. While it may have been prevalent among aristocrats of the past, gout is by no means exclusive to the wealthy. It can affect anyone, and understanding its origins, triggers, and available treatment options is essential for managing and improving the quality of life for those dealing with this condition.
In this brief article brought to you by Mountain Spring Podiatry, we’ll review gout as well as its causes and avenues of treatment. If you experience the symptoms of gout in your feet or ankle area, then consider seeing a licensed podiatrist, or foot doctor. Residents in the area can call Mountain Spring Podiatry to schedule an appointment with a licensed podiatrist today.
Primer: An Introduction on Gout
Gout’s is basically an accumulation of uric acid crystals within the joints and surrounding tissues. Uric acid is a natural byproduct of the body’s breakdown of purines, which are substances found in various foods and even produced internally. In individuals with gout, the body either produces TOO MUCH uric acid or has difficulty eliminating it through the kidneys.
Several factors contribute to the development of gout, including genetics, lifestyle, and dietary choices. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to hyperuricemia, the condition where uric acid levels are elevated. Lifestyle factors such as obesity, dehydration, and alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of gout.
Triggers and Symptoms of Gout
Gout attacks, the hallmark of this condition, are characterized by their sudden onset and intense joint pain. Often beginning at night, gout attacks cause excruciating pain in the affected joint. The joint becomes swollen, red, warm, and tender to the touch. Due to the pain and swelling, it may be difficult to move the joint.
We’ll get to treatment in a minute, but understanding the triggers of gout is essential if you want to prevent or reduce the risk of the onset of gout attacks:
- Purine-rich foods like red meat, organ meats, seafood, and alcoholic beverages can raise uric acid levels.
Inadequate fluid intake can lead to the concentration of uric acid in the bloodstream.
Physical injuries or trauma to a joint can provoke a gout attack in susceptible individuals.
Certain medical conditions, such as hypertension, as well as medications, like diuretics can contribute to hyperuricemia and gout attacks.
How Medical Practitioners Diagnose and Treat Gout
Your podiatrist, or healthcare provider, will examine the affected joint, ask about your medical history, and assess your overall health. Blood tests to measure uric acid levels are commonly performed. In some cases, your doctor may recommend joint fluid aspiration to check for the presence of uric acid crystals.
Gout is manageable and treatable, and treatment aims to relieve pain during attacks and prevent future ones, as well as reduce uric acid levels. Treatment options include:
- Pain relief to alleviate pain and inflammation during gout attacks.
Prescription medication to help lower uric acid levels, reducing the frequency and intensity of gout attacks.
Making dietary changes that limit purine-rich foods, staying hydrated, and moderating alcohol intake.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is also important, as obesity is a risk factor for gout.
See a Licensed Podiatrist for Gout
If you suspect you are having gout attacks in your feet and ankles, then see a skilled podiatrist for a professional diagnosis and to get started on treatment if necessary. Mountain Spring Podiatry is happy to schedule a flexible appointment or arrange a walk-in for as soon as possible.