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Town Center Foot & Ankle

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By nick
January 17, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
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Because we often indulge in all the goodies available to us during the holiday season, there is often a spike in the occurrence of gout cases doctor sees. While gout is not caused by our diet, gout can be triggered by one's diet. The type of foods most associated with triggering gout are: beef, pork, lamb, beer, mushrooms, spinach cod, scallops, haddock, asparagus, oatmeal and dried beans - to name a few. Continue reading below to gain a better understanding of what gout is, how it happened and some things we can do to resolve this issue.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Gout is a systematic disease (i.e. condition that occurs throughout the body) caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints.  An elevated blood level of uric acid (called hyperuricemia) occurs when the liver produces more uric acid than the body can excrete in the urine, or when a diet high in rich foods (e.g. red meat, cream sauces, red wine) produces more uric acid than the kidneys can filter from the blood.

Over time, uric acid in the blood crystallizes and settles in the joint spaces, causing swelling, inflammation, stiffness, and pain.  Gout usually affects the first metatarsal phalangeal joint of the big toe (hallux) or the ankle joints.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints.  Approximately 18% of people who develop gout have a family history of the condition, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.  Diseases and conditions that increase the risk include diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, and sickle cell anemia.

Regularly drinking alcohol interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body and can increase the risk of developing gout.

HOW DOES IT FEEL?
Gout usually develops in the joint of the first toe (i.e. the big toe, or hallux).  Common symptoms included the following: inflammation, pain, redness, stiffness and swelling.  Touching or moving the toe may be intensely painful and patients often say that having as a bed sheet over the toe increases joint pain.

WHAT WILL MY DOCTOR DO FOR IT?
The goal of treatment is to decrease the amount of uric acid in the joints, which helps to reduce symptoms and prevent further attacks.  If left untreated, affected joints may be damaged, causing disability.

Treatment may involve nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication.  Due to potentially severe gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects, NSAIDs should only be used as instructed.  Corticosteroids may be taken orally or injected into the affected joint.  These medications usually resolve symptoms in about a week.

CAN I PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?
Prevention is the best defense against gout.  Medication may prevent continued accumulation of uric acid in the joints and further attacks.  Avoiding alcohol and rich foods that are high in purine (i.e. scallops, sardines, red meat, sweetbreads, gravy, cream sauces) also may help to prevent the condition.

Other preventative measures include the following:

·        Drink plenty of fluids (especially water)

·        Exercise regularly

·        Maintain a healthy diet and healthy body weight

·        See a physician regularly

·        Acute Flare-ups should be treated immediately!

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