Once considered a condition suffered by only wealthy individuals due to their rich food and fine wine consumption, it turns out that gout is not limited to just the upper echelon. In fact, gout typically affects over one million Americans, including men over 40-years-old and women after menopause. Others that can be affected by gout include overweight individuals and those who consume frequent amounts of alcohol (not just the fine wines of the rich and famous).
Good question—gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden, intense pain in the joints; striking typically in the morning hours. Most often, gout occurs in the large toe, however, it can also occur in the foot, ankle, or knee. Less frequently, it presents itself in the hand, wrist, and/or elbow, and fortunately, rarely the spine. In addition to sudden, intense pain, the symptoms of gout include swelling around the joint, accompanied by red, inflamed skin, tenderness, and heat to the touch.
Here’s the breakdown: as your body naturally breaks down genetic RNA and DNA in your cells, it produces uric acid. A byproduct of uric acid is sodium urate. Sodium urate crystals can be abnormally deposited into your joint cartilage and joint fluid. These sodium urate crystal deposits result in the painful condition of gout. (These same crystals can also be deposited in the kidneys resulting in kidney stones).
Low levels of uric acid are dissolved into the blood and eliminated as waste, but high levels of uric acid in the blood get deposited in the joints, making the development of gout likely. The likelihood of developing gout depends upon your body’s ability (especially your kidneys) to rid itself of uric acid.
A proper diagnosis is crucial in order to treat your condition properly. Your physician can perform a procedure called arthrocentesis by inserting a needle into the inflamed joint and removing fluid. This accomplishes the following:
• Reduce pressure within the joint
• Relieve pain
• Determine the presence of sodium urate crystals in the fluid
Gout attacks, once they occur, may happen only from time to time, or may become more frequent. They can affect the same joint or different joints, and can last a few days to two weeks if they are not treated.
First, the disappointing news: there is currently not a cure for gout. The good news, however, is that the disease can be treated and managed. When treated properly, typically with medication, symptoms usually subside within 24 hours.
Treatment options depend upon numerous factors, which include the patient’s:
• Current medications
• Overall health
• Medical history
• Severity of gout attacks
Anti-inflammatory medications typically reduce the swelling and pain of attacks within 24 hours, however, trust your physician to prescribe the appropriate medication for your situation. If you suffer from chronic conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure, diabetes or ulcer disease, your physician may offer alternate treatment therapy.
Reducing alcohol intake and limiting foods that cause increased uric acid production such as red meats, some shellfish, anchovies and fructose containing corn syrup can help, but may not be enough to control your uric acid levels.
Are you suffering from gout attacks?? Get in touch with our office and we’ll give you a thorough exam to determine if it is gout and devise a treatment plan to alleviate your pain. Give us a call at 954-452-4590 or contact us through our online form to set up an appointment.
Dr. Nina L. Coletta has been practicing Podiatry for over twenty years. Her practice remains on the cutting edge of advancements in Podiatric Medicine, providing state-of-the-art laser treatments, three-dimensional technology to construct custom orthotics and braces, and in-house arterial and venous studies of the lower extremity. From pediatrics to geriatrics, her staff provides superior care in a warm, welcoming environment.