A chronic condition by any other name
Gout, gouty arthritis, podagral, or the disease of kings―no matter what you call it―is a painful systemic medical condition which most frequently affects men. By all accounts, the pain of gout which generally attacks the joint of the big toe is excruciating. A gout flare-up can last several days or weeks. Luckily, the doctors at American Foot with locations in Atlanta, Locust Grove, and Stockbridge can help patients with gout.
Right diagnosis: Arthritis
Understanding that gout is a form of arthritis helps patients makes sense of the condition. In fact, it is an acute inflammatory form of the disease which is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Without treatment, the intense pain, swelling, and tenderness of gout can reoccur; and untreated gout can cause damage to joints, tendons, and other tissues.
Not everyone with high levels of uric acid, a metabolite of protein, in the blood is confronted with a gout attack. However, certain individuals with elevated uric acid levels develop hard crystal formations in the joints of the foot, ankle, or knee. The crystals cause severe inflammation which leads to the painful condition known as gout.
Time to contact a professional
If you have foot pain and suspect gout, make an appointment with one of the doctors at American Foot. In order to diagnose your condition, the doctor will examine you and ask questions about your diet and lifestyle. He or she will draw blood to check for uric acid and fluid from the affected joint to see if there are crystals present. Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor will administer shots of corticosteroids and/or prescribe oral medication. The drug allopurinol can be used to prevent future occurrences. Relief is quick once treatment begins.
Beware of purines and alcohol
Diet and lifestyle choices affect uric acid levels in the body. Individuals who drink too much alcohol or are overweight have a higher chance of developing gout. Gout can be hereditary, but there is not enough data to establish the actual percentage of cases linked to genetics. Eating food high in chemicals called purines raises uric acid levels:
- Red meat and meat-based broths & gravies, organ meats such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads
- Seafood, such as mackerel, mussels, scallops, herring, sardines, and anchovies
- Vegetables such as asparagus, dried peas and beans, and mushrooms
Some medicines, such as water pills (diuretics), can also bring on gout.
Breaking News on Diet and Gout
The latest research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests that a diet commonly prescribed for patients with high blood pressure can have positive effects on lowering the levels of uric acid. Findings showed that following the DASH (Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension) diet had success in lowering levels of uric acid. This research indicates that uric acid levels can be addressed by adhering to the DASH diet. The good news is the DASH diet could replace the need to take medication in some patients.
The DASH diet, originally prescribed to help patients with high blood pressure is now recommended for gout sufferers. It is a simple, easy-to-follow eating plan that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and reduces the fat intake.
If you have foot trouble, make an appointment today to get answers and relief.