Gout appears suddenly and causes intense pain, usually in the joint at the base of your big toe. It may recur or cause joint damage if left untreated, which is why Dr. Scott O’Connor at Premier Podiatry in Normal, Pontiac, and Bloomington, Illinois, encourages you to come in for an evaluation as early as possible. To learn more, call the nearest office or book an appointment online today.
Gout is a type of arthritis (joint inflammation) that develops when uric acid crystals accumulate in your joints. Although it can affect any joint, uric acid tends to respond to temperature, accumulating in the colder parts of your body.
As a result, the joint at the base of your big toe is the most frequent site of gout, as it's one of the cooler body parts. Other common areas affected by gout include the joints in your midfoot, ankle, knee, and elbow.
Uric acid is produced when your body metabolizes purines, which are naturally occurring compounds found in foods and produced in your body to help build DNA.
Excess uric acid is normally eliminated through your urine. When your kidneys don’t remove enough uric acid though, or you produce too much, it builds up in your blood. These high blood levels lead to uric acid in your joints.
Some patients inherit a genetic predisposition to develop gout. Other factors that increase your risk include:
Gout attacks usually appear suddenly, often developing during the night while you sleep. The affected joint becomes swollen, red, warm, and very painful.
Acute symptoms should go away within 10 days, although joint discomfort may continue up to a few weeks.
You may develop recurring episodes of gout. Without treatment, ongoing gout attacks can become more frequent, cause persistent nodules of uric acid, and lead to joint damage.
Lifestyle changes -- such as limiting high-purine foods and losing weight if needed -- help prevent gout flare-ups. In advanced cases of gout, you may need surgery to remove uric acid crystals and repair the damaged joint. Otherwise, most treatment plans incorporate medications to:
During a flare-up, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications can relieve your pain. Dr. O’Connor may also prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
Dr. O’Connor can prescribe one of several medications that prevent gout by lowering uric acid production or increasing the amount of uric acid eliminated from your body.
To get an accurate diagnosis, bloodwork must be drawn within 48 hours! Call quickly for an appointment, we can draw blood in our office.