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Q&A: Gout

Is gout a disease of the big toe?

Yes – but not always. Gout is a painful form of arthritis. When it first appears, it’s very often in the big toe joint. But gout can also affect other joints such as those in your fingers, knees, and hips.

Who gets gout and why?

You’re more likely to experience gout if

  • you’ve got a family history of gout
  • you’ve had a previous joint injury
  • you eat a diet rich in purines – including red meat, shellfish, and organ meats – which raise the level of a waste product in your bloodstream called uric acid. Too much uric acid causes small crystals to form and settle in your joints.
  • you consume a lot of alcohol (especially beer)
  • you’re overweight
  • you take certain medications used to control hypertension and heart disease

Is it serious?

Gout is serious because it can be so debilitating. Our patients here at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center report that the pain is excruciating. It comes on quite suddenly and can last for several hours to several days. Unless you act to prevent gout, another flare-up is inevitable. As time goes on, flare-ups tend to become more severe.

How does a podiatrist treat gout?

Gout presents itself in the big toe as pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling. The problem is that these symptoms can also point to some sort of infection. In order to correctly diagnose gout, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm can examine your toe and order a blood test to check your level of uric acid. A high level suggests gout, which can be treated with medications to reduce it while also alleviating pain and swelling.

What can you do to prevent gout?

  • maintain a healthy weight
  • eat a healthy diet
  • drink water to help your kidneys pump uric acid out of your body
  • watch your intake of high-purine foods and drinks

What happens if gout isn’t treated properly?

You can sustain permanent joint damage, meaning disfigurement of your hands and feet. As time goes on without treatment, more joints can be affected and gout flare-ups can increase.

If you think you may be having a gout attack, make an appointment at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center for prompt treatment at our office in Centreville, VA. Call us at (703) 996-3000 or contact us online.

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