The main cause of gout is known to be the accumulation of uric acid in our bodies. Hyperuricemia is a condition that results from this accumulation of uric acid in our system; the liver is the organ that produces the uric acid and the kidneys are responsible for excreting it from our body.
When the body is unable to control the overproduction of uric acid it will result in formation of tiny crystals in the joints. These crystals trigger painful reactions in the joints resulting to stiffening and inflammations around the joint area. The feet are most susceptible to a gout attack.
The joints that are affected most by gout include;
- metatarsophalangeal joint located in the big toe
- ankle joints
Symptoms of foot gout
When the big toe joint (also known as the hallux) suffers an attack of gout, you will experience sharp pains in the joint, the area will redden and some swelling may also occur. This will make it hard for you to execute certain movements using the toe especially because of the pain that is brought about by the gout.
Rarely does gout attack two or more joints into the feet simultaneously, gout is known to localize at one joint at a time. If you do not seek treatment early, gout may cause damage of joints and in serious cases disability in the affected area.
Causes of foot gout
The main cause of this condition is the buildup of uric acid in the body. In addition, there are certain conditions which make some people more prone to gout than others. Such conditions include:
- kidney complications
- sickle cell anemia
Research studies also indicate that your chances of getting gout are higher if you have family history gout.
Alcohol is a contributing factor to development of gout. This is because alcohol hinders the effective removal of uric acid from the body which then leads to gout.
Other contributing factors are;
- Excessive consumption of foods that are high in purine content
- Taking medications like diuretics and low dose aspirin are known to cause gout.
Diagnosis of foot gout
Before being given any form of treatment for gout, a diagnosis has to be performed for confirmation purposes. The diagnosis procedure involves extraction of synovial fluid that is found in joints. Synovial fluid plays the function of lubricating joints during while they move. The fluid is extracted using a syringe then a test for urate crystals is done. This is important as some bacterial infections may exhibit the same symptoms as gout.
In general, treatment for gout works by reducing levels of uric acid in the body. The first line of treatment that is administered is NSAIDs -Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as indomethacin and naproxen.
You have to ensure that you follow the instructions correctly for best results; other medications such as Colchicine may also be used. Some of these medications are known to cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and stomach upsets nevertheless it is important to make sure you complete the treatment.
General foot care tips during treatment of gout
These foot care tips will help in reliving and avoiding pain as you recover from gout, they will also help in prevention of future attacks from taking place.
1- Ensure your feet are comfortable by wearing appropriate foot wear: you should put on shoes that give ample space for the toes to move and they should properly fit; not being too large or too small for your feet. You are advised to wear sneakers and avoid high heel shoes whenever possible.
2- Avoid activities that put stress on the joints such as standing for long periods of time.
3- Do stretching of the feet regularly: this will assist in strengthening of the affected joints and promote blood circulation in the area.
4- Eating a healthy balanced gout diet – this mainly involves a reduction in consumption of foods that have a high concentration of purines while trying to substitute them with other alternative foods.
5- Try to maintain a healthy body weight, as being overweight may result in stress and pressure being exerted on joints located in the feet. The stress and pressure may also cause pain and slow down the gout treatment you are undergoing.
Our feet play an important role in the day to day activities we carry out; therefore treatment of conditions affecting the feet such as gout should prompt your immediate attention once any symptoms are detected.