For some folks, a sharp pain in the night can be a troubling experience. For others, it can be a recurring problems that suggests something much worse is at play. With splitting pain in joints that can flare up in the night and last for weeks at a time, gout can be uncomfortable at best and debilitating at worst.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to better understand your gout and treat your gout symptoms. In this blog, the Dallas podiatrists at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center will give you an in depth look at the signs, causes, and symptoms of gout, and give you the right steps to take for pain management and treatment.

What is gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis, highlighted by sudden burning sensations, joint swelling, and stiffness. Gout is usually discovered because of its “attacks”—sudden burning and sharp pain that, when it recurs, can cause serious damage to joints, tendons, muscles, and other bodily tissues. Joints can also become extremely swollen and bulbous, which can make moving the joint in question difficult and painful.

Almost any joint in the body can be affected by gout—but in terms of feet, gout usually forms in the big toe. This is because the big toe handles a ton of pressure from walking and standing.

What are the causes of gout?

Ultimately, gout is caused by having too much uric acid in the bloodstream. While some people a lot of uric acid in the bloodstream will never get gout, others will have such high levels of uric acid that uric acid will harden to form crystal-like growths on your joints.

But how do people develop too much uric acid in their bloodstream? Obesity and weight gain can often lead to an overload of uric acid, as can consuming too much alcohol, or eating too much meat or fish containing purines. Some medications will cause gout, including heavy use of diuretics.

There are many who believe rapid weight gain can dramatically increase the risk for developing gout, most notably seen with famous actor Jared Leto. While preparing to play the role of John Lennon’s assassin, Mark David Chapman, for the film Chapter 27, Leto gained nearly 70 pounds within a matter of months, and quickly began to develop severe gout symptoms.

What are the symptoms of gout?

For most, signs of gout start with an “attack” during the night—swelling, tenderness, itching, burning, and sharp pain in the big toe. Others may face pain in the entire foot, or in the knee, ankle, or elbow. These episodes can last from a few hours to a few weeks before pain subsides, with the next episode not returning for months or even years. Even when your gout pain has subsided, talk to your doctor about your options for gout treatment. You might not be dealing with gout pain at the moment, but uric acid buildup in your joints can cause damage in the meantime.

How is gout diagnosed?

More often than not, your doctor will perform a physical exam and take a sample of fluid from your joint in order to find uric acid crystals. In some circumstances, doctors will perform a blood test to see how how much uric acid is built up in your bloodstream.

How is gout treated?

For those with gout, treatment for attacks is paramount. Doctors often prescribe large doses of corticosteroids or other medicines to reduce swelling and pain. With an aggressive treatment strategy, pain from attacks often subside after 24 hours or so.

Over the counter pain medications are also very helpful for those experiencing gout attacks. Ibuprofen and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful at this time, but be sure to avoid aspirin, which can actually raise the level of uric acid in the bloodstream.

Talk to Your Dallas Podiatrist

If you have experienced what you believe to be a gout attack, or suspect you have gout, it’s time to take action. Waiting to treat gout symptoms will only make them worse—so schedule an appointment with the AllCare Foot & Ankle Center team for diagnosis and treatment of your gout. With experienced professionals, state-of-the-art medical facilities, and convenient locations in Arlington and Dallas proper, you can always find the foot care you need. Schedule an appointment with us today!