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How Does Gout Affect the Feet?

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but they all boil down to one thing — joint pain and inflammation. In this regard, gout is no different, but it’s unique in that it can cause stabbing pain in your feet and ankles during a flare-up.

The team of highly qualified musculoskeletal experts here at Western Orthopaedics has you covered from head to toe — and toe is an appropriate usage here as gout most often strikes your big toe.

Here’s a closer look at gout, how it affects your feet and ankles, and what we can do to manage the problem.

Gout — a complex and painful form of arthritis

In general, arthritis can be divided into two categories — degenerative and inflammatory. Gout falls into this second category and occurs when uric acid builds up in your system, forming sharp, crystal-like structures in your joints.

Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines, and then your kidneys process the acid and excrete it through your urine. If you have higher-than-normal levels of uric acid or your kidneys don’t process the substance properly, the extra uric acid can turn into urate crystals, which gather in certain joints, causing considerable pain and inflammation.

In most cases, these crystals collect in the large joint in your big toe, though they can accumulate in your knees and ankles, as well.

Gout typically comes and goes, creating very painful attacks. Men are three times more likely than women to develop gout, and there are other risk factors, which we’ll discuss shortly.

Treating gout pain

If you develop pain in your feet or ankles that’s sudden and debilitating, you should come see us as soon as possible so that we can identify whether it’s gout.

If we do find this form of arthritis, we manage your pain with medications, such as anti-inflammatories, colchicine, and corticosteroids.

We also develop a plan that will help you prevent future attacks, which means mitigating some of your risk factors.

To start, it’s important to note that certain foods contain high levels of purines, such as red meat, seafood, and beer, to name a few. If you watch your diet and avoid some of these purine-rich foods and drinks, you can avoid a flare-up.

It’s also important to manage your stress, which can contribute to or worsen a gout flare-up.

Another great way to prevent an attack of gout is to keep your weight within a healthy range and to incorporate more exercise into your daily regimen. People who are overweight or obese are more prone to gout.

Ultimately, your treatment plan depends upon your unique risk factors. Rest assured, we’ll work with you until we find the right combination of approaches to relieve your foot pain.

To learn more about gout and your joint health, please contact one of our two offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado, to set up an appointment.

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