Gout is a common type of inflammatory arthritis that can affect adults of all ages—even those in their 20s and 30s. It is characterized by sudden episodes of debilitating joint pain and swelling (gout flares), which can last for days or weeks. The condition is caused by the buildup of urate crystals in your joints and surrounding tissues, and it commonly attacks the big toe and ankle, although it can also affect other joints.
If you are experiencing swelling and pain in your big toe and suspect that you have gout, it proves prudent to see a foot doctor for an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. When left unaddressed, gout can cause joint damage and serious complications that can affect the other parts of your body, such as your blood vessels and kidneys.
Here’s how a foot doctor diagnoses and treats gout:
To confirm a diagnosis, your foot doctor will usually ask you about your symptoms and examine your big toe and other affected joints. They will also likely order or perform any of the following tests:
- Blood test – to assess your uric acid levels
- Joint fluid test – to obtain fluid from your joint (Your doctor will be able to see the urate crystals when they examine the fluid under a microscope.)
- X-ray imaging- to rule out other potential causes of joint swelling
Based on the results of the evaluation, your foot doctor will then devise an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment for gout requires a combination of medications and dietary and lifestyle changes.
Your foot doctor will prescribe two types of medications: the first one provides symptom relief associated with the attacks (pain and swelling) and the other one works to prevent complications by reducing your uric acid levels.
Your foot doctor will recommend the following self-care measures to help you effectively manage your gout:
Avoiding Alcoholic and Sugary Drinks and Foods High in Purines
Limit intake of beverages with high purine content, such as alcoholic beverages and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).
Red and organ meats are also notorious for causing gout flares. Other foods that you need to avoid include sardines, mussels, tuna, and trout. To make sure you’re still getting enough protein, go for low-fat dairy products.
Engaging in Regular Physical Activity
Regular exercise helps you keep your body at a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing gout. Go for low-impact activities, such as walking, yoga, and swimming, as these don’t put excessive strain on your joints.
Drinking Plenty of Water
Drinking lots of water can help flush the urate crystals out of your system. Your foot doctor will likely recommend that you drink more than two liters of water a day, especially when you’re having gout flares.
Foot Doctor in Naples, FL
At Joint Replacement Institute in Naples, FL, board-certified foot doctor Dr. Jamie Weaver uses the most advanced methods and techniques to diagnose and treat the full range of conditions and injuries that affect the foot and ankle.