Gout in the Feet and Toes

gout photo

Sometimes, you may experience sudden pains in your joints. These pains seem to have no immediate cause, and nothing seems to work on them. While there are many possible causes, your doctor may find you have gout.

What is Gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis, in which your body reacts to deposits in the joints. These deposits are formed from uric acid. Typically, uric acid filters out of the body through the kidneys. If this process doesn’t happen properly, the uric acid settles in tendons and joints. If left untreated, it settles into crystals called tophi.

Feet and Toes Symptoms

Gout tends to go through flare-up periods lasting up to ten days. During these periods, the pain in your joints with gout will increase significantly. Typically, the first 36 hours of a flare are the most painful, though your experience will vary. Flares are more likely to begin overnight or in the early morning.

Gout is common in the toes, foot, and ankle. In fact, many people report gout first beginning in their big toes. During a flare, the pain is intense, and some people even report anything touching the affected joint brings more pain.

During a gout flare, the affected joints will change in appearance. Most commonly, the joint will be tender and stiff. Many people also experience a red discoloration and a warm feeling when touched.

If left untreated, gout can spread to other joints. Particularly severe gout can damage joints and surrounding structures, possibly leading to immobility. Routine treatment and early diagnosis help mitigate these effects.

Please contact your doctor at the first sign of a flare.

Treatments

There are a variety of treatments available for gout, though your medical team will choose the best one for you. At your first gout appointment, your doctor will review your symptoms and examine the affected joints. Your doctor may also request bloodwork and scans to confirm the diagnosis.

There are medications to treat gout during the flare periods, which your doctor can help you navigate. Specific categories of over the counter pain medications, specifically NSAIDs, can offer gout relief. Additionally, certain prescription steroids and colchicine can work on other symptoms.

If you experience particularly frequent or painful flares, your doctor may choose to include medication to prevent future episodes. These medications focus on uric acid. The options include limiting uric acid production or hastening the removal process.

There are treatments you can perform at home while you wait for your doctor’s appointment. Generally, you can elevate and ice the affected joints in your feet. Rest also helps. Over the longer term, you can alter your diet to decrease your uric acid and maintain a healthy weight. These changes can reduce your chances of a flare.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice. Please seek treatment from your medical team for ongoing symptoms.

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