Arthritis is commonly thought of as being a condition of painful joints that simply comes from getting older. When people think in this way, they are describing osteoarthritis, but there are actually over a hundred different forms of arthritis, including gout. This condition most commonly affects the big toe and is one reason patients come to see us at Capital District Podiatry.
How Gout Develops
Arthritic conditions have a variety of root causes and with this particular form, the problems are caused by a byproduct of food breakdown within the body known as uric acid. As purines in various food products are broken down, the body produces uric acid. Certain foods and drinks have a higher concentration of purines and lead to increased production of the uric acid. Refined carbohydrates, fructose, sweets, and alcohol are examples of these kinds of foods and beverages.
The entire process is completely natural, but issues arise in cases where either too much uric acid is produced by the body or the kidneys are unable to properly filter the uric acid so it can be flushed out of the system. When uric acid builds up in the bloodstream, it ultimately will settle into joints, build up over time, and crystalize into sharp urate crystals. These edges of these crystals result in sharp, intense flares of pain.
What a Gouty Toe Feels Like
The symptoms of this complex form of arthritis are usually experienced in the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint of the big toe. This joint is located at the base of the toe, where it connects to your foot.
As noted, the pain is intense and sharp in nature, and it often happens randomly at night. The pain can be so intense it might hurt to even have a light sheet covering the affected joint. In addition to the pain, there is also usually redness and tenderness in the affected joint. After a flare-up, it can be weeks or months before the next episode hits.
Treatment for Your Painful Toe
Lifestyle changes and home care can be quite effective in treating the condition. This often entails reducing your daily intake of seafood, organ meats, red meat, and other high-purine foods. Limiting (or completely avoiding) sugary beverages and maintaining a healthy bodyweight are other home care practices. Another advantage of limiting the consumption of high-purine foods is that it helps to keep weight down too. Other smart practices include exercising regularly and replacing alcohol and sugary beverages with water or unsweetened tea.
The professional treatment we offer can be centered on helping you find a medication that works to both treat acute attacks and prevent future gout flares from happening. Medications we may prescribe may either block or decrease uric acid production or improve the body’s uric acid removal processes.
Preventing a Gouty Arthritic Condition
Capital District Podiatry can provide treatment, but the best course of action is to prevent the condition from developing in the first place. This includes taking advantage of some key components of healthy living, like:
- Drinking plenty of water. Staying properly hydrated will help your body to flush out uric acid. Water is the best choice for doing this, but unsweetened drinks (those not containing high-fructose corn syrup) also work well.
- Limiting, or even avoiding, alcohol consumption. Come see us so we can review your options—there might be certain alcohols which do not cause issues for you—but it is important to know that beer, in particular, will usually increase the risk of gout symptoms.
- Limiting daily intake of poultry, fish, and meat. We can help you with this by providing the right types and quantity of protein sources for you to consume without developing issues.
- Practicing clean eating. Stick to a diet centered on unprocessed food—especially legumes, veggies, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains—to keep your feet safe. Even better, this will contribute to your overall wellness.
Professional Arthritic Foot Care in the Capital District
Don’t let the pain from arthritic foot conditions like gout impair the quality of your life. Come see Dr. Tejas Pandya, DPM and find the professional treatment you need at either our Troy or Clifton Park, NY offices. Call Capital District Podiatry today for more information, or to schedule an appointment, at (518) 273-0053.