Arlington Podiatry Center
611 South Carlin Springs Road
Arlington, VA 22204
Swollen Toe Or Ankle? It Could Be a Gout Attack
What Is Gout?
Have you ever been awakened at night by a hot, painful feeling in your big toe or ankle? Did the painful joint appear swollen and red (inflamed)? These can be symptoms of a gout attack. Gout is a disease that affects the joints. Left untreated, it can lead to painful foot deformities and even kidney problems.
Gout is caused from excess uric acid, a waste product made by the body. The uric acid forms crystals that collect in the joints, bringing on a gout attack. If you have many gout attacks, crystals may form large deposits called tophi.
The good news is that by treating gout early, you can relieve the pain and help prevent future problems. Gout can usually be treated with medication and proper diet. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Treating Gout Attacks
The first step is having a doctor physically examine you. Your doctor will want to know where and how often you feel pain, about your diet, other medications you are taking and how much alcohol you drink.
X-rays may be taken to check for tophi or changes in your bones. Your doctor may take some fluid from your joint to check for uric acid crystals. A blood sample may also be taken.
A daily long-term control medication can reduce levels of uric acid. This may help prevent gout attacks. Other medications can help relieve pain and swelling during an attack.
Medication may reduce pain and prevent attacks in the future. There are also some things you can do at home to relieve symptoms, such as resting and elevating the painful joint.
Who Is At Risk For Gout?
Men are more likely to have gout than women. But women can also be affected, mostly after menopause. Some health problems, such as obesity and high cholesterol make gout more likely.
Medications, such as diuretics (water pills), alcohol consumption and certain foods can trigger gout attacks.
Foods to avoid if you have gout include:
- Alcohol (beer, red wine)
- Certain meats (red meat, processed meat, turkey)
- Organ meats (kidney, liver, sweetbread)
- Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, scallop, mussel)
- Certain fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel)
Here are some things you can do to prevent gout attacks:
- Avoid alcohol and foods that trigger gout.
- Take any long-term control medications prescribed by your doctor.
- Lose weight if you need to.
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Drink plenty of water to help flush uric acid from your body.