If you have experienced hot, swollen toes that cause pain in the middle of the night, you may have gout. This condition occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the bloodstream and cause an attack on the joints. Luckily, gout can be prevented and easily treated by a podiatrist.
Symptoms of Gout
Gout can occur suddenly and has symptoms such as:
- Joint pain. Joint pain from gout can happen anywhere but is most commonly in the big toe. The pain is intense and happens mostly at night.
- Redness and swelling. The joints affected by gout will swell and be red and tender due to inflammation. You may notice that your toes feel hot or warm to the touch.
- Reduced range of motion. Gout can cause your joints to not move normally and you may have a reduced range of motion in the areas that are affected.
- Joint discomfort. Discomfort in the joint affected by gout can linger for weeks. The pain may leave but you may still experience discomfort.
Risk Factors for Gout
Gout is due to having a high level of uric acid in your blood. There are a variety of factors that increase the levels of uric acid in the body. Risk factors for gout include:
- Being overweight
- Eating a diet rich in red meat and shellfish
- Consuming alcohol
- Having an untreated medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease
- Taking low-dose aspirin daily
- Having a family history of gout
- Being a man between the ages of 30-50
Diagnosis and Treatment of Gout
If you are experiencing pain in your toes, your podiatrist will be able to examine your feet and determine if you have a case of gout. Your podiatrist will look for warmth and tenderness in the joints as well as any swelling. He may order an imaging test such as an X-ray to determine that another condition is not causing the inflammation. To determine the cause of gout, you may need blood tests to check the levels of uric acid in your bloodstream.
Once you are diagnosed, treatment will be based on what type of gout attack you are experiencing. Treatment can consist of the following:
- Rest. Resting the foot, keeping it elevated, and not applying pressure can help relieve pain and discomfort due to the inflammation in the joint.
- Oral medication. This is given for an acute gout attack and is used to decrease inflammation in the joints. An NSAID such as ibuprofen may be used but aspirin is not recommended since it can raise the level of uric acid in your blood.
- Cortisone injection. This is used for both acute and chronic attacks of gout. Cortisone is injected into the joints to reduce inflammation.
- Surgery. In more severe cases of chronic gout, the affected joints may require surgery.
If left untreated, gout can lead to more serious complications. If uric acid builds up in the kidneys, it can cause kidney stones. It can also lead to nodules under the skin or the destruction of a joint. Consulting with a podiatrist at the first sign of a problem is advised to prevent further damage from happening due to gout.
If you have had gout or are having reoccurring gout attacks, there are adjustments you can make to your lifestyle that can help prevent future attacks. Some ways to prevent gout from happening are:
- Drink plenty of water daily.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup.
- Eat a healthy diet focusing on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Limit red meat and high-fat dairy products.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
Contact Us With Questions
If you have gout or any questions, Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help. We offer a free initial consultation and can help create a customized plan to address your concerns. To set up an appointment, fill out our convenient contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.