Now that it is getting warmer outside, a lot of people are going to be having more barbecues.There is nothing more special than spending time with loved ones and enjoying a variety of foods. It is a staple for summer. Pool parties, barbecues, and sharing great laughs. Picturing this may bring you excitement as you dust off the grill and prepare it to be used endlessly for the next couple of months. You may be wondering,  how is this related to a podiatry blog? Well today I am going to go over a common problem I see in the office that can be very troublesome to patients and it relates to the way patients are eating. It is important to note that you can still enjoy your special tradition of barbecue parties, but, you may just need to swap a couple things out! The condition that we are going to go over today is gout which can be severly impacted due to an individuals diet.

What Is Gout?

Gout is a disorder that results from the build-up of uric acid in the tissues or a joint—most often the joint of the big toe.  An attack of gout can be miserable, marked by the following symptoms:


• Intense pain that comes on suddenly—often in the middle of the night or upon arising

• Redness, swelling, and warmth over the joint—all of which are signs of inflammation 

gout causes and treatment


Uric acid is a normal metabolic product that your body produces and excretes.  However, if there is dysfunction in this process, you can develop an abnormal amount in your blood which then gets deposited in your joints.  This excess uric acid in your joints causes severe pain, redness and swelling. Typically this is described as "pain out of proportion." There are two mechanisms by which uric acid builds up. The first and most common reason is that your body is simply producing too much uric acid. The second mechanism, and less common, is that your body is unable to properly remove the uric acid. In both cases, excess levels of uric acid build up in the fluid around joints resulting in the formation of uric acid crystals.  These crystals cause the affected joint to become inflamed and painful. In the foot, the big toe is the most common joint affected.

Two Types of Gout

There are generally two main types of gout. One is called primary gout which is an underexcretion or over production of uric acid.  The overproduction of uric acid can be brought on by foods that ingest in your diet (primarily alcohol, red meat or seafood.) The under secretion can be a result of dehydration. Secondary gout is described as increased uric acid due to a condition or medication that you take. A common cause of this is a  dysfunction in your kidneys that do not properly excrete the acid.Now that we went over the different causes of gout, we will now go over the different areas that you might experience this pain.

Where Will I experience Gout Pain? 

The most common joint to have an acute attack is the big toe joint, however, you can experience them in other joints in your foot and ankle.  As described above, gout will typically have a sudden onset of pain, redness and swelling., This type of pain will often make it difficult or very painful to walk.  Historically, gout was a very debilitating  condition because there was no treatment for the condition.  Because of this, people often were crippled because of gout. Luckily nowadays, gout can be treated (once diagnosed) fairly quickly.  

What Causes Gout Attacks? 

There are many factors which may predispose an individual to developing a gout attack. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are a few examples of medical conditions that are shown to be associated with gout. It has also been shown that overweight individuals are more at risk for developing gout as well as those people who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. A person’s diet can also put them at risk for developing gout. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fructose-rich fruits and fruit juices, beer, meat and seafood are examples of food and drinks are major risk factors if they are consumed in excess. This is why those special barbecue meals are something to keep an eye on or simply switch out for healthier options.As mentioned before, gout typically affects the big toe. Why? Because the protein will settle in cold joints and since the big toe joint is the furthest from the heart, it is the coldest.  That is why gout attacks can occur in the middle of the night.

However, it can also affect other joints, like the knee and ankle joints.  The painful symptoms typically occur suddenly. The joint affected may be warm, swollen, red, and very sore. A common complaint is that even laying in bed with a sheet over the affected area can cause extreme pain. If this is your first gout attack the pain may go away in a few days, but it is possible for additional attacks to occur, each one lasting longer than the previous attack.  It is best to get an early start on treatment. If gout is left untreated the risk of causing progressive joint and tissue damage is greatly increased.


Looking to Treat Gout? Hillsborough Podiatrist Can Help Treat Your Foot Issues. 

Please call Doctor Warner's office at 908-874-8030 so that you can book an appointment as soon as possible.