What Is Gout?


Gout happens when deposits of crystallized uric acid lodges in the tissues or a joint. It usually happens in the joint of the big toe and is quite painful. Gout makes the skin very sensitive to the touch and may even feel like a broken toe bone, which it is not.

Gout usually happens in the big toe because at cooler temperatures, uric acid turns into crystals. Since the toe is farthest from the heart, it’s also the coolest part of the body. Gravity takes the crystals downward, as opposed upwards to a finger.

Uric acid is usually passed out of the body in urine, but for people who have gout, uric acid accumulates and crystallizes. Uric acid is the result of too much purine, which is found naturally in our bodies and in food, such as shellfish, organ meats (kidney, liver, etc.), red wine, beer, and red meat.

Some people develop gout because their kidneys have difficulty eliminating normal amounts of uric acid, while others produce too much uric acid. If crystals form in the kidney, a person will have a uric acid kidney stone.

Symptoms of gout may include:

  • Pain that comes on suddenly.
  • Inflammation, redness, swelling, and warmth over the joint.
  • Skin is sensitive to the touch.
Diagnosis of Gout

A foot and ankle surgeon will ask questions about your medical history and give your foot an examination. Sometimes laboratory tests and x-rays are ordered to check if the pain is caused by something other than gout.

Treatment of gout may include the following:

  • Prescription medications (such as Indomethacin) or injections are used to treat the pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Foods and beverages that are high in purines should be avoided, since purines are converted in the body to uric acid.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids, but avoid alcoholic beverages, which cause dehydration.
  • Avoid standing and walking to give your foot a rest.
  • Elevate your foot upwards to help reduce swelling.
The symptoms of gout usually go away in three to ten days with treatment. If gout symptoms continue, or if repeated attacks occur, see your foot and ankle doctor for maintenance treatment that may involve daily medication, such as Allopurinol.

Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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