If you have gout, you know symptoms can often come on quickly and painfully. Especially foot pain. Gout symptoms can often range from uncomfortable to downright crippling—but what’s worse is how the pain can affect your daily life. After all, when you’re suffering from a gout attack, what’s there to do?
We spoke with Fairview Range podiatrist Dr. Stacey Helland to learn more about what gout is, it’s symptoms, and what can be done when it comes to managing severe foot pain during a gout attack.
What is gout?
“Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs in individuals who have high levels of uric acid in their blood,” explains Dr. Helland. “This causes needle-shaped crystals to accumulate in one or more joints of the body and can cause severe pain. Gout can affect many areas of the body, but it commonly affects one or more joints in the foot, especially the great toe joint. If there is no history of trauma and a joint of the foot (or other area of the body) becomes extremely painful within 24 hours, it may be an indication of gout. If the bedsheet touching the affected joint or a fan blowing on the affected joint causes severe pain, this may be an indication of a gout attack.”
Who is most likely to be affected by gout?
“There are multiple risk factors for gout,” says Dr. Helland. “Diet; dehydration; obesity; certain medical conditions (kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, et al.); taking certain medications (such as thiazide diuretics); a history of a recent trauma, such as surgery; being a male between the age of 30 and 50; having a family history of gout, and a diet high in purines (foods such as red meat, alcohol, seafood, sweetened beverages with fructose, and others).”
What causes gout?
“Gout forms when uric acid crystals accumulate in a joint of the body due to high level of uric acid in the blood,” explains Dr. Helland. “The risk factors listed above can contribute to high levels of uric acid in the blood.”
Is gout hereditary?
“Susceptibility to gout can be inherited,” clarified Dr. Helland, “However, gout can also occur without a positive family history.”
Can gout be treated and/or prevented?
“Yes, gout can be treated and prevented!” Dr. Helland says. “Gout can be treated acutely with numerous anti-inflammatory medications such as Indomethacin, Colchicine, and short-term tapering doses of an oral steroid. Acute gout attacks and pain can also be treated with steroid injections. Long term gout medications to prevent acute flares are prescribed and managed by a primary care provider or rheumatologist if numerous gout attacks continue to recur. Preventative measures include drinking plenty of water throughout the day, exercising and eating a well-balanced diet to control weight, avoiding excessive alcohol use, and decreasing foods in the diet that contribute to higher uric acid levels in the blood (liver, sweetbreads, seafood, etc.).”
If you have questions when it comes to your gout and your foot pain is affecting your daily life, speak with your podiatrist to learn more about what treatment options are best for you.
For more information about Fairview Range’s podiatry services, go online to range.fairview.org or call us at (218)-262-4881.