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Gout: The Likely Reason For An Unexplained Excruciating Pain In Your Big Toe

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The pain in your big toe is getting so bad you're tempted to go to the emergency room. Could you have somehow broken the bone without even knowing it? That's not likely. If you're experiencing terrible pain in this part of your foot, you probably have developed a case of gout. Seek fast relief from a foot doctor who can also help you from preventing another occurrence in the future. 

What is Gout?

This painful condition is actually a type of inflammatory arthritis. Unlike other kinds of arthritis, however, the onset is fast and dramatic. It's not uncommon for a first-time gout sufferer to suspect a fractured toe. The toe becomes swollen, red and inflamed due to crystals in the joint.  Gout can occur in other joints, but usually it develops in a big toe. That's because the crystals accumulate in a low-temperature area with relatively low circulation.

What Causes Gout?

If you have gout, your body has produced an excessive amount of uric acid and could not remove it before urate crystals formed. A primary risk factor for this occurrence involves consuming a high level of substances known as purines, which are prevalent in red meat, seafood and alcohol. As the body metabolizes purines, uric acid forms as a waste product. 

It's unclear why not everyone develops gout from eating this type of diet -- and why some people develop gout even if they don't consume high levels of purines. Some bodies simply are not effective at processing and removing a high amount of uric acid. 

Being overweight or having uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes are additional risk factors. Men are significantly more susceptible to gout than women are, and the likelihood of developing this disorder increases with age.

What Type of Physical Examination Can You Expect? 

A foot doctor -- medically known as a podiatrist -- will want to know your medical history, as well as some brief information about your lifestyle and your diet. Because gout can be easily diagnosed, you probably won't need X-rays. The doctor might draw some joint fluid to confirm the presence of crystals.

What Are the Treatments?

The podiatrist will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication as well as medication to reduce uric acid levels. You should feel much better within several hours. 

What About Preventive Methods?

You'll receive dietary instructions that help prevent gout attacks. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you'll need to reduce your intake. Beer is especially likely to elevate uric acid levels. In addition, decreasing the amount of red meat, seafood and high-fat dairy products you consume is important. 

What Can You Do Right Now?

Call a podiatry clinic like Family Foot & Ankle Physicians and see how quickly you can get in. These doctors typically leave some spaces in the schedule for emergency appointments. You should be feeling substantial relief before the day is over with their help.