When Gout Attacks, Fight Back against the Pain

A gout attack, as anyone who has had one can attest, is one of the least pleasant foot conditions common among middle-aged and older men and women. The pain can be excruciating, with joints so swollen and tender that even the weight of a sock or bedsheet can seem unbearable. Worse, strikes are swift, often occur in the middle of the night, and can last for hours or days. Although a number of joints can be affect, the most common location is the big toe.

What’s Really Happening inside Your Toe?

Gout is considered a form of arthritis, but it’s not about wear and tear—in most cases it’s about what you put in your body. When you digest purines—common in meats, seafood, and some other foods—your body breaks the compound down into uric acid. Most of the time your body can filter that acid safely out of your body through the kidneys, but if too much uric acid remains in your bloodstream it forms crystals and deposits on your joints. These build-ups strike suddenly and cause intense pain, and if not managed properly attacks can become longer, more intense, and more frequent. They may also lead to the development of kidney stones.

What Causes the Problem? What Are the Risk Factors?

While the root cause is a buildup of uric acid in the joints, there could be many underlying reasons that this could occur. Diets that are high in purines may overload your system with uric acid. Alcohol abuse (especially beer) is a double whammy, since alcohol not only contains purines but also makes it harder for your system to remove uric acid.

Medical conditions such as kidney failure, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and hypothyroidism magnify your risk, either by increasing uric acid production or impairing successful filtering. There may also be a genetic component—susceptibility tends to run in families.

Plan a Diet for Treating Gout

The good news is that many people have the power to limit or even prevent these attacks just by making more careful choices about what they eat. Beer, game and organ meats, poultry, most seafood, mushrooms, refined carbs and high-fructose corn syrup should be avoided or eaten sparingly in small quantities. Instead, opt for fresh veggies (except asparagus) and fruit, leaner meats, and whole grains.

If you have a complicating condition, such as obesity or high blood pressure, managing them will also be important to help you control attacks.

What to Do When an Attack Occurs

When the pain strikes, contact our office and schedule an appointment as soon as possible—especially if you’ve never seen a doctor for gout before.

After confirming the diagnosis, we’ll draw up a treatment plan to help you manage your pain. In some cases a simple OTC anti-inflammatory may be all you need, but for tougher pain we may prescribe a different medication or perform a steroid injection. If attacks are particularly painful or frequent, we may also consider medications to help reduce your risk of further complications, or strategies to help you manage an underlying condition (such as high blood pressure).

Although the attacks can be very painful, the disease is the most controllable of any common form of arthritis, and Victoria L. Melhuish, DPM is here to help. Whether you need treatment for pain, diet suggestions, or follow-up evaluations to assess your future needs and risks, our offices in Carson City and Gardnerville, NV are top destinations for gout management. Give us a call at (775) 783-8037 and schedule an appointment today.

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