Gout

Gout is a disorder that results from the buildup of uric acid in the joint or surrounding tissue. Most often, this disorder affects the joint of the big toe.

This is caused by an inability of the kidney to eliminate uric acid. Uric acid is found in the bloodstream and the result of the body breaking down purines, chemicals that are naturally found in our food and bodies. Rather than the body eliminating the uric acid, it crystalizes at lower temperatures and accumulates in the joints. Because the toes are so far away from the heart, they are the coolest part in the body. When the uric acid in the bloodstream passes through the toe, it decreases in temperature, causing it to crystalize and deposit in the joint. Although most common in the toes, gout can affect any joint in the body.

Predispositions to Gout

Although the tendency to have gout is often inherited, there are many other factors that can affect the severity of gout. Read the following statistics and information to find out whether or not you are at risk of developing gout.

  • Gout is more common in men aged 40-60 than it is for women, or younger men.
  • Having diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or high stress levels.
  • Recent surgery or chemotherapy.
  • Taking some medications and vitamins like aspirin, diuretic medications, and the vitamin niacin (nicotinic acid).
  • Consuming foods/beverages that contain high levels of purines, such as shellfish, organ meats (kidney, liver, heart, etc.), red wine, beer, and red meat.

Symptoms

  • Intense pain that comes on suddenly, often in the middle of the night or upon arising.
  • Signs of inflammation.
  • Redness and warmth over the joint.

Treatment

Nonsurgical

  • Medications to help with gout flare ups, and other medications to help prevent future flair ups.
  • Modifications to diet.
  • Staying properly hydrated.
  • Immobilizing or elevating the foot.

Surgical

In severe cases, the joint disease caused by gout may benefit from surgery, which can range from cleaning out the joint to fusion of the affected joint.