We often ignore foot pain and dismiss it as simply being on our feet too much. But while foot pain can be due to over-usage, it can also be a sign of a very serious condition. One such condition is gout.
What is gout?
Gout is actually a form of arthritis. The pain that the individual feels is caused by inflammation due to a buildup of uric acid. Under normal conditions, uric acid is expelled from our body through urination. But sometimes, the body develops a buildup of uric acid which cannot be disposed of. When this occurs, the excess amount is deposited into the bloodstream. From there it makes it is way into the joints.
Although gout can also be located in the knee and ankle, it is most notably found in the big toe. Once there, the acid forms into crystals. These crystals aggravate the joint, creating pain.
What are the symptoms of gout?
Pain in the affected joint typically starts out mild, but quickly escalates in a throbbing sensation that can increase in intensity very suddenly. The discomfort can also be described as a crushing sensation of the joint. As the size and amount of the crystals increase, so will the pain. In severe cases of gout, the pain can be utterly excruciating.
The affected area can become red and have a warm feeling. The warmth can sometimes even be accompanied by a fever. It will also become very tender, even without being touched making it painful for a blanket or even a sheet to touch it when sleeping.
Symptoms have a tendency to go away on their own, only to return a day or two later. Frequency and level of pain can also be associated with walking and wearing shoes. If allowed to progress, gout can become chronic, resulting in damage and loss of movement to the joint. Extended, severe cases of gout can be accompanied by a formation of lumps under the skin, called tophi, that can actually emit a chalky substance.
How is gout treated?
The most common treatments for gout include taking medication to reduce the inflammation. Even something as simple as ibuprofen can offer relief. The key is to take the medicine as soon as symptoms begin to appear. More severe cases might require something stronger such as painkillers. Your doctor could also inject the area with a corticosteroid to bring faster relief, usually within 12 hours or so.
Medication will also be necessary in order to bring uric acid levels down to a reasonable amount.
It is also necessary for gout patients to adopt certain lifestyle changes. Cutting back on the amount of food eaten in one sitting, avoiding carbohydrates and limiting alcohol are all helpful. It is also recommended that foods high in purine, such as organ meat, sardines, mushrooms, legumes, asparagus and others are limited or avoided altogether.