What is gout?
Gout is the build up of uric acid in the bloodstream. The body can either over produce the uric acid or have a problem excreting it. The uric acid can then crystallize in soft tissue and joints, forming gouty attacks. You can get sudden pain, swelling, and redness to the area where the uric acid crystallized. The most common area for this to happen in the foot is the big toe joint. The next most common area is behind the foot/ankle, followed by the knee. It is rarely seen in multiple joints at the same time.
How is gout diagnosed?
Gout can be diagnosed clinically. Your doctor will exam you for tell-tale signs of gout, which include but are not limited to swelling, redness, increase in warmth, pain level, etc. Your doctor may also send you for lab work to check your uric acid levels. If your lab work comes back normal, it does not necessarily mean that you do not have gout. When the uric acid crystallizes in the joint, it may bring the blood uric acid level down to normal. The joint can be aspirated and some fluid that is taken from the joint can be sent off to a lab to examine under a microscope. The lab can determine is gouty crystals are present in the joint or not. Xrays can be taken to see if there is damage to the joints and bones; the uric acid, in chronic gout patients, can erode the bone in a classic pattern that is easy to detect on xrays, so this can help in diagnosing as well.
How to treat gout?
Gout can be treated by taking certain medications to help reduce inflammation and pain and other medications that are specifically made to alleviate uric acid buildup. Resting and keeping off the affected area can also help alleviate gouty symptoms. Gout will typically reside on its’ own in a few days.
How to prevent Gout?
There are certain foods you should avoid if you have a history of gout such as red meats, red wine, shell fish, and certain medications for high blood pressure and aspirin. Ask your doctor for a complete list of foods to avoid if you are having a gouty attack. Also, your doctor can put you on medication to prevent gouty attacks from happening if you have recurrent attacks.
If you suspect gout, contact us at 813-875-0555 so we can cure your pain!