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What is Gout?

Hello, My name is Dr. Irene Arroyo and I am one of the podiatrists at Dallas Podiatry Works in Dallas and Plano.

Today I am going to talk about gout.

Gout is: a type of inflammatory arthridity. The big toe joint is the most common joint affected but it can occur in other joints such as ankles, knees, and wrists.

Gout is caused by an increase of uric acid in your blood, which results in accumulation of urate crystals in the joint, producing an inflammatory response. If left untreated, it can damage your joints and tissues.

There are also pre-disposing factors to be aware of, which include: being overweight, high consumption of alcohol, high purine diet (ex. red meats, organ meats, and fish), certain medications such as water pills, having a family history, and having certain medical conditions such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart and kidney diseases.

If you think you may have gout, there are specific signs and symptoms which are common during a gout flare such as:

  • Having a red, swollen joint
  • Sudden attack of burning type pain with and without walking
  • Joint stiffness.

Duration of symptoms is unpredictable. It is recommended to seek immediate assistance if you have other generalized symptoms such as fevers and chills.

The process to diagnose gout starts with a:

  • Physical exam, and x-rays are usually necessary.
  • A blood test is typically ordered to measure the uric acid level.
  • In office procedure for aspiration of the joint may be performed to evaluate for uric acid crystals and confirm the diagnosis.

Gout is treatable, and common methods of treatment consist of:

  • Maintaining a Low purine diet
  • Shoe gear modifications, namely rigid sole shoes
  • Arch support (OTC versus custom)
  • Oral and topical medications to treat your symptoms
  • Ultrasound guided injection

Surgical intervention is typically not needed for this condition,  particularly if treated during early stages.

There are preventive measures to know of with the ultimate goal to maintain normal uric acid levels, particularly to prevent multiple episodes.

Possible complications if gout is not treated include:

  • Formation of tophi, which are skin nodules from accumulation of uric acid crystals under the skin
  • Destruction of joints
  • Kidney stones

If you suspect having this condition, please call our office and make an appointment. We would be honored to be part of your healthcare team.

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