Settling in to watch the football game after a big meal of turkey and all the trimmings is a comfortable way to end Thanksgiving Day—an attack of gout, causing severe pain in your big toe joint is not! At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM, we see an increase of this form of arthritis during the holiday season and want to help you avoid this very painful condition.
What’s the Cause?
Gout is caused by an accumulation of crystallized uric acid in a joint. Uric acid is found in our blood. It is a byproduct of the breakdown of chemicals known as purines, which occur naturally in our body and are also found in certain food and beverages. Normally, uric acid is eliminated by the kidneys but when too much is present or the body is unable to get rid of it, the uric acid crystallizes. Uric acid is sensitive to temperature and crystallizes more quickly at colder temperatures. This is why the big toe joint is the joint most commonly affected by gout because it is the farthest from the heart and therefore in the coldest part of the body. The predisposition to gout is frequently genetic. Other risk factors for this condition include:
· High blood pressure
· Certain vitamins and medications
Treatment and Prevention
Symptoms of gout include sudden, intense pain that can come on in the middle of the night or when you first get up. There may be signs of inflammation present as well, such as redness, warmth and swelling of the joint. Our podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco will evaluate the affected joint and may take x-rays as well as get a detailed medical history. If gout is the diagnosis, the foot doctor will most likely prescribe rest and elevation of the foot and also suggest you increase your fluid intake. Medications are also available to treat gout. Certain foods and drinks that contain high levels of purines should be avoided or at least severely limited. These include:
· Red meat
· Organ meats
· Red wine
· Rich Sauces
If you have more questions about gout and how not to let it ruin your holiday festivities, contact our Somers Point office by calling: (609) 927-4894.