Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis, caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. It can affect the hands, elbows, knees and wrists but most commonly it affects the feet, especially the big toe. About 4% of Australians experience gout and we find it mostly affects males.
The pain of a gout attack can be intense, with swelling and sensitivity. Our clients will tell us they wake in the middle of the night feeling like their big toe is on fire. The toe joint feels hot, swollen and too tender to touch. These acute symptoms can last for up to 10 days if they are left untreated.
What causes Gout?
Uric acid crystals are produced by too much uric acid in your blood and can accumulate in the joints. Uric acid normally dissolves and is passed through your urine without any problems. But occasionally, the body produces too much uric acid, and the crystals accumulate in your joints, causing swelling and pain.
If you have kidney problems, this may also lead to gout as the kidneys struggle to eliminate uric acid. It may also be hereditary and so it’s wise to check which family members may have also experienced gout and if they have observed any triggers for the onset.
Certain foods and drinks can trigger a bout of gout such as:
- Foods high in purines such as red meat
- Red wine
- Sweetened drinks
- Sweet foods and desserts
- Seafoods such as shellfish and oily fish such as tuna, sardines and salmon
- Alcohol, especially beer
- Some medications
Arthritis Australia have a good article about what to eat and what not to eat if you have recurring gout. We suggest doing some research and also observing what sort of foods lead to stiffness or soreness in your joints, especially your toes.
Read more here:
Symptoms of Gout
- Intense joint pain especially in big toe
- Limited range and motion of your joints in the feet
- Pain that wakes you in the middle of the night
- Ongoing discomfort, pain, and sensitivity in a joint
- Swelling and redness
If you are also experiencing a fever and fatigue, we recommend seeking medical attention as soon as possible as this may mean an infection has begun.
In many cases your doctor will prescribe oral medication which will alleviate the symptoms within a few hours. If you are experiencing frequent gout attacks however, then we suggest you work with your doctor on a longer term treatment plan which may include medication as well as changes to your diet. It’s important to get on top of recurring gout attacks as they can lead to longer term damage in your joints.
How we help at our podiatry clinic (Adelaide, Mount Barker and Stirling)
Pain in the feet and toes can occur for a number of reasons including plantar strain, neuromas or bunions. If we suspect the pain or discomfit in your feet is from gout, we’ll suggest you visit your local doctor for an assessment. At the clinic, our podiatrists will discuss a treatment plan to ensure that your joints continue to stay mobile, fluid and flexible.
Our podiatry team consults in Linden Park opposite Burnside Village, Mount Barker and Stirling. Call us on one of the numbers below to make an appointment.