If your big toe joint suddenly gets hot, red, swollen, and very painful, you could be having a gout flare. Gout is an arthritic condition that develops when excessive amounts of uric acid in the body cluster and crystallize on joints—most commonly the big toe joint. Symptoms from a gout flare can last for days or weeks and then completely disappear until the next flare occurs. You may be more at risk of developing gout if you have a family history of it, or if you are male, obese, drink alcohol, eat a lot of purine-rich red meat and seafood, or have certain health conditions like diabetes, kidney issues, hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes and more. If you believe you may have gout, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a podiatrist who can diagnose your condition through an exam and various tests, and help relieve your pain. In severe cases, where large deposits of gout form and normal pain relief methods do not provide relief (or there is joint dysfunction), surgery may be necessary.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and tenderness in the joints. The condition usually affects the joint at the base of the big toe. A gout attack can occur at any random time, such as the middle of the night while you are asleep.
- Intense Joint Pain – Usually around the large joint of your big toe, and it most severe within the first four to twelve hours
- Lingering Discomfort – Joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks
- Inflammation and Redness -Affected joints may become swollen, tender, warm and red
- Limited Range of Motion – May experience a decrease in joint mobility
- Genetics – If family members have gout, you’re more likely to have it
- Medications – Diuretic medications can raise uric acid levels
- Gender/Age – Gout is more common in men until the age of 60. It is believed that estrogen protects women until that point
- Diet – Eating red meat and shellfish increases your risk
- Alcohol – Having more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases your risk
- Obesity – Obese people are at a higher risk for gout
Prior to visiting your podiatrist to receive treatment for gout, there are a few things you should do beforehand. If you have gout you should write down your symptoms–including when they started and how often you experience them, important medical information you may have, and any questions you may have. Writing down these three things will help your podiatrist in assessing your specific situation so that he or she may provide the best route of treatment for you.