Foot With Signs of Gout in the Big Toe JointAre you suffering from sudden and severe pain and swelling at the base of your big toe? Gout may be to blame. Though this condition usually affects the big toe joint, it can also affect your other toes or even your ankles. Here's what you need to know about gout and how the skilled Roanoke, Virginia podiatrists with Shenandoah Podiatry can relieve pain and help you manage the condition to prevent future flares.

Causes and Symptoms of Gout

Gout is a common and incredibly painful form of inflammatory arthritis caused by excess uric acid. Your body produces this acid when it breaks down purines, substances that naturally occur in the body, as well as in foods like red meat, organ meats, and certain types of seafood; alcoholic beverages; and drinks sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar).

Uric acid is supposed to dissolve in your blood, pass through the kidneys, and exit the body when you pee. However, in some cases, your body may produce too much uric acid or your kidneys may not be very good at processing it. When uric acid builds up in the bloodstream, it can form sharp, needle-like crystals that settle into joints and surrounding tissue, causing a wide range of symptoms that can appear suddenly, often at night. Symptoms can include:

  • Intense pain (that's often most severe in the first 4 to 12 hours)
  • Redness and swelling at the site of the affected joint
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion
  • Warmth or a burning sensation
  • Tenderness to even light touch, such as from a sock or sheet
  • Lingering discomfort that lasts for days or weeks

Though gout can affect anyone, some people are more at risk for developing the disease. You may be more likely to get gout if you are a man or post-menopausal woman, consume a diet that includes a lot of animal proteins or alcohol, struggle with health problems such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, or kidney disease, or have close family members with the condition.

Diagnosing Gout

At Shenandoah Podiatry, we know gout when we see it and can often diagnose this condition based on a discussion of your symptoms and the appearance of the affected joint. If we need additional information, we may order any of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Joint fluid test which examines fluid extracted from the affected joint underneath a microscope to confirm the presence of uric acid crystals
  • Blood work to measure the levels of uric acid in your bloodstream
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds to rule out other causes of inflammation or look for uric acid crystals in joints and surrounding soft tissue

Treating and Preventing Gout Flares

While there's no cure for gout, with the help of our knowledgeable and experienced Roanoke podiatrists, you can find relief from gout pain and learn how to manage your condition to prevent future attacks, called flares. Our treatment and prevention recommendations may include:

  • Medications to control symptoms
  • Prescription drugs to lower uric acid levels
  • Avoiding foods or drinks high in purines
  • Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
  • Eating a balanced, low-purine diet and exercising regularly

Early treatment for gout is vital to preventing complications such as worsening pain, recurring gout flares, and permanent joint damage. Fortunately, if you're looking for prompt, professional, and personable podiatry care performed in a relaxing atmosphere, you've come to the right practice. At Shenandoah Podiatry, we're proud to help patients put their best foot forward.

Schedule an Appointment

Don't let gout pain stand in the way of what you want to do. Let Shenandoah Podiatry's highly-skilled foot and ankle specialists provide the diagnosis and care you need to get back on your feet. Complete our online contact form or call us at 540-904-1458 to schedule an appointment with a member of our accomplished podiatric team.