If you feel chronic pain in one of your joints, especially the joint of your big toe, you may have gout. Pain from gout can be debilitating and make it difficult to move around. While there is no cure, the experienced doctors at Independence Foot and Ankle Associates, LLC in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Feasterville, and Perkasie, Pennsylvania, offer effective treatment solutions for managing pain and relieving the other symptoms. To learn more about gout treatments, schedule an evaluation online or call the office.
What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis affecting one joint at a time. The condition develops when an increased accumulation of urate crystals in your joint causes swelling and pain. Urate crystals form because of high levels of uric acid in your bloodstream. As your body breaks down naturally-occurring purines and food, like steak, it produces uric acid.
Other foods and drinks that increase uric acid levels include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Sweetened drinks
- Organ meats
Uric acid dissolves in your blood, filters through your kidneys, and is excreted in your urine. If your body produces too much acid or your kidneys don’t discharge enough of it, the buildup of acid causes the development of sharp crystals in the joints and tissues. These crystals cause the intense pain and swelling associated with gout.
There is no cure for gout, but your doctor creates a comprehensive treatment plan to manage your pain and treat the other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of gout?
A sudden onset of intense joint pain, often in the area of the big toe or ankle joint, is characteristic of gout. Gout pain may occur without warning and last for several days or weeks. Other symptoms may include:
- Prolonged discomfort after pain ceases
- Inflammation and tenderness in the joint
- Redness or skin that’s warm to the touch
- Limited joint mobility and range of motion
During flares, gout pain can be unbearable. During periods of remission, you may experience an absence of gout symptoms for weeks at a time.
How is gout diagnosed?
Your doctor performs a physical examination of the affected joint. He uses laboratory testing for blood and joint fluid samples to determine the presence of uric acids and developed crystals. Imaging tests may also be useful in identifying joint issues and ruling out other conditions before your doctor confirms a gout diagnosis.
Imaging tests may include:
- CT scans
Your doctor also reviews your medical and family history and creates a customized treatment plan for managing your symptoms.
What treatments are available for gout?
Based on the severity of your pain, your doctor may recommend prescription pain medications to provide pain relief during gout flares. Other treatment options may include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Uric acid blockers
In addition to medications, your doctor may recommend changes to your lifestyle including:
- Limiting high purine foods
- Reducing intake of alcoholic beverages
- Regular exercise
- Weight loss