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What's Causing Your Painful Gout?

What's Causing Your Painful Gout?

If you have a history of gout, you’re all too familiar with the excruciating pain that develops in the affected joint — usually in your big toe. Granted, you can go years in between gout flare-ups, but all it takes is one more painful episode to remind you that prevention is the best tactic.

To prevent your gout from flaring up again, it’s helpful to understand what’s prompting the problem. To that end, the team of foot health experts here at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle is taking this opportunity to dive a little deeper to explain the causes of gout.

Getting to the root of gout

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, which is an umbrella term for diseases that cause joint pain and inflammation. Gout is one such disease and typically affects your big toe joint, though it can also develop in your knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, and hands.

The cause of gout is a buildup of uric acid in your system. The excess uric acid can lead to the formation of crystals, which tend to gather in the joints we mention above. These crystals are what cause the pain, inflammation, and tenderness that are the hallmarks of gout.

Taking a step back, uric acid is a waste product in your blood created when your body breaks down purines. Under normal circumstances, the uric acid dissolves in your blood and is flushed out through your kidneys. If, however, you have higher-than-normal levels of uric acid, your body isn’t able to process the excess, leading to a condition called hyperuricemia. Not everyone with hyperuricemia develops uric acid crystals, but for those who do, gout ensues.

Gout typically occurs in flare-ups, which can last from days to weeks. Once the flare-up subsides, you can go into remission, and there’s no rule of thumb as to how long these reprieves last. Some people can go years without another gout flare-up, while others only last a few months.

Treating gout

As we said, we can help you improve a gout flare-up with anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers, but the better approach to managing the condition and preventing future flare-ups is to prevent a buildup of uric acid in the first place.

Since your body produces uric acid when it processes purines, it makes sense that you need to limit the amount of purines you consume. Foods high in purines include:

Red meat also contains purines in moderate amounts, so you’d do well to limit the amount you eat.

While we’ve concentrated on foods that you shouldn’t eat, there’s some evidence that certain foods can lower your chances of a gout flare-up, including coffee, cherries, and foods rich in vitamin C.

Another risk factor for gout is excess weight, so we also suggest that you try and lose some extra pounds to limit your risk.

If you have more questions about better managing your gout, please contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Columbia, Pulaski, or Lebanon, Tennessee, to consult with one of our podiatry experts.

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