man with gout rubbing painful footGout is a complicated but common type of arthritis that can cause severe pain along with swelling and redness. A gout attack can occur without much warning and can cause pain in the middle of the night, as well as affect day-to-day life. Fortunately, gout can be prevented if you avoid common risk factors.

Symptoms of Gout

Gout most often appears in the big toe, but it can flare up in any joint, including the ankles. Some symptoms you might notice include:

  • Intense joint pain. Attacks of severe pain can last for hours at a time.
  • Lasting discomfort. After the attack, joint discomfort can continue for days or even weeks.
  • Redness and inflammation. You will observe a swollen, red joint when gout is occurring. It might also feel hot and tender.
  • Reduced range of motion. When gout progresses, your joints might become stiff and difficult to move.

Causes of Gout

Gout happens when urate crystals build up in the joints, causing the pain and inflammation that is classic of a gout attack. Urate crystals are created when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines, which is a substance found naturally in the body but can be overproduced by different things like certain foods and alcohol.

Usually, uric acid dissolves into the blood and passes through the kidneys and into the urine. Sometimes, when too much uric acid is produced, it can form sharp crystals in joints and surrounding tissue, causing pain and inflammation.

Risk Factors of Gout

Despite the pain and irritation felt by individuals with gout, it is a condition that can be avoided. Factors that increase uric acid levels include:

  • Diet decisions. If you eat a lot of red meat or drink sugary beverages, you are at higher risk for gout. Consuming alcohol—especially beer—is another dietary risk that leads to gout.
  • Obesity. If you are overweight, your body produces more uric acid, and your kidneys will struggle to eliminate it.
  • Medical conditions. Certain illnesses can cause gout, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease.
  • Medications. Blood pressure medication, anti-rejection drugs, and low-dose aspirin all increase risk of gout.
  • Age and gender. Gout is more common in men and usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50. Women also develop gout, but usually after menopause.

When to Seek Help

If you are experiencing pain from gout, it’s important to get prompt treatment, both to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. At InStride Carolina Podiatry Group, we are well-versed in both gout symptoms and solutions. Our podiatrists can help you resolve your current issues, as well as guide you in lifestyle changes to prevent further gout attacks. Contact us today to set up an appointment and step forward into a pain-free life once again.