Joint inflammation and pain are frustrating problems that can persist if not addressed properly. Often, people attribute joint pain to arthritis. Pain and other symptoms, especially when localized to the big toe, may actually be a sign of gout. Here, we discuss what gout is and what you can do to manage symptoms.
What is Gout?
Gout can be a chronic problem that flares up periodically. It begins when there is too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced to break down what are called purines, which are both naturally in the body and present in certain foods. Normally, uric acid is naturally broken down and eliminated. Poor kidney function or overproduction can impair this process. When too much uric acid remains in the blood, what are called urate crystals form in joints. The big toe is usually the first joint affected, but inflammation and pain can spread to other joints. Fortunately, gout is treatable. Some of the ways in which the condition can be managed include the following.
- Lifestyle modifications. Knowing that certain foods can increase the amount of uric acid in the blood, people with gout can change their habits. Foods to limit or avoid include red meat, organ meat, seafood, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened drinks. Additionally, patients who are overweight and prone to gout flare-ups can benefit from losing weight. It is beneficial to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and to drink plenty of water to help support kidney function.
- Anti-inflammatory medication. Minor inflammation, pain, and swelling may resolve with an over-the-counter NSAID. Examples include ibuprofen. For more severe flare-ups, prescription anti-inflammatory medication or a corticosteroid may be necessary.
- Prescription treatment. A doctor may prescribe medication to help manage the level of uric acid in the blood. Some medications help the body process uric acid more quickly. Some reduce the amount of uric acid the body produces, and some prevent urate crystal formation. These medications are most effective when they are started at the first indication of a gout flare-up.
Get Help for Gout Pain
Orthopedic Associates of Long Island has seven convenient locations to serve our patients. Contact us today to schedule a visit.