Of the many joint conditions under the arthritis umbrella, gout may hit the fastest and hardest, creating intense, sharp pain usually in the big toe, though it can affect the ankle, knee, or other joints in rare cases. Fortunately, gout is easy to treat, and it’s possible to prevent future attacks. Without treatment, attacks can last for days or weeks before subsiding.
The intensity of a gout attack can be so severe that your day comes to a halt. All thoughts turn to relief. Contact podiatrist Francine Rhinehart, DPM, for treatment of your immediate symptoms and ongoing management of the condition to prevent future incidents and complications from this inflammatory disease.
The pain, inflammation, and heat you experience during a gout attack directly result from the formation of urate crystals within the affected joint. These crystals develop from an excess of uric acid, a by-product of purines, which are chemical compounds found in certain foods and beverages.
Uric acid is usually filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. Sometimes, the kidneys filter too little, or your body produces too much of this acid. It’s then that you’re at risk of sharp, needle-like urate crystals forming.
It’s possible to have high uric acid levels without experiencing gout symptoms; however, urate crystals can also collect in the kidneys to form kidney stones, though urate stones are less common than calcium oxalate stones.
You can raise uric acid levels in your body through a diet heavy in purines. Red meat, some fish, and shellfish are heavy sources of purines. Beverages with high purine levels include drinks sweetened with fructose, alcoholic beverages in general, and beer in particular. Limiting your consumption of these reduces the amount of uric acid your kidneys must filter.
Other risk factors for gout include:
Left untreated, repeated gout attacks can cause joint deterioration, and your attacks may last longer.
When gout strikes, your treatment plan may consist of three parts: managing the attack, preventing future events, and preventing complications.
To manage your gout pain, Dr. Rhinehart recommends over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen or prescription-strength medications, including indomethacin. These can relieve your symptoms quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours.
Preventing future attacks usually requires lifestyle changes to limit your purine intake. Losing weight also helps to process uric acid more efficiently, as does reduced alcohol intake. Increasing daily water consumption can also make a difference.
Dr. Rhinehart may also prescribe drugs like allopurinol to lower uric acid levels in your blood. This helps you avoid longer-term complications like chronic gout and kidney stones. When chronic gout becomes an issue, ask Dr. Rhinehart about intravenous KRYSTEXXA® to reduce uric acid levels.
Call or click to book a consultation with Dr. Rhinehart and her team to find out more about your condition and how to get rid of it. The distraction of a gout attack doesn’t have to affect your life. Schedule your visit today.