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Gout and the foot

Definition

Gout is a type of arthritis that affects the joints in the body. The joint that is commonly affected is the big toe joint. Other joints like the ankle, wrist, elbow or knees can be affected too.

Gout is caused by urate crystals being deposited in and around joints. When an increased amount of urate is produced or a lesser amount is excreted, this leaves high levels of urate. Gout can be linked with many other conditions, making it difficult to treat. A lot of the time, high blood urate levels are not picked up on in gout cases.

Gout can begin very suddenly. Usually the big toe joint becomes painful, which makes walking very difficult. The joint may look inflamed and red. To begin with, a gout attack may be triggered after a trauma, drinking too much alcohol or eating too much food. Gout can affect men and women but it is more common in men.

 

Treatment

If you have painful joints that are red or inflamed then we advise you to see your GP. Fluid in the joints will need to be investigated by blood tests and x-rays to confirm if it is gout. Gout is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs to begin with to bring the inflammation down. Changes to your diet may also be needed.

There are many drugs used to prevent gout attacks. Drugs like Allopurinol and Uricosurics are used to treat gout attacks. Allopurinol lowers the production of urate and Uricosurics increases the urate being excreted. These drugs help to lower blood urate levels and prevent further attacks of gout.

Suspected gout attacks must always be investigated. The earlier it is diagnosed then attacks can be managed adequately. If gout is not controlled properly then joint damage can occur. It is vital that any drugs should be taken as prescribed.