January 12, 2021: What is gout and do you have it?
Do I have gout?
Arthritis is a disease of the joints which results in them to become inflamed and stiff.
There are three main types of arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteo-arthritis and the less common form, Gout.
What is gout and what causes it?
Gout is the result of too much uric acid in the body leading to a build-up in the blood. Small crystals can form, collecting in the joints causing irritation and inflammation, which can be painful and severe.
Is it serious?
Apart from the severe pain that gout can cause, most other side effects of gout are rare but can include kidney damage because crystals form to create kidney stones which are known for being extremely painful to pass.
Who gets it?
1 in 200 people are affected by gout. More men than women are affected and it tends to appear in middle age but can run in families.
How do I know I have it?
The main symptom of gout is waking during the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe, which is also swollen. Usually only one of the big toes is affected. The pain lasts for a few hours and usually subsides not returning for a few months.
If it is more persistent, pain may be constant accompanied by swelling, redness and heat. If symptoms are persistent a visit to your GP is needed as they can be controlled by medication.
How do I prevent it?
You can reduce your chances of having attacks by leading a healthy lifestyle by:
Maintaining a healthy weight
Eating a healthy diet including what you drink (i.e. avoiding too much alcohol or fizzy drinks)
Making sure there is plenty of Vitamin C in your diet.
What are the treatments?
Gout can be controlled and regulated with anti-inflammatory drugs, which your GP will be able to prescribe, and these will alleviate the attack over 24 hours or so. Anti-gout medications are usually only taken during pain episodes.
When gout strikes, it helps to elevate your leg to reduce swelling together with the application of ice or cooling lotions while waiting for your medication to take effect.
Your podiatrist will also be able to increase comfort through advice and adapting your existing footwear with orthoses or other specialist insoles to help redistribute pressure away from the affected joints.
Made-to-measure shoes can also be prescribed and your podiatrist will be able to advise you on the correct type of shoes to wear and where to obtain them.
They can also provide protective shields for your toes or padding to relieve pressure and thereby reducing friction. Any secondary problems like ulcers or corns can also be treated. They can also refer you to a specialist for more serious cases.
When should I see a Podiatrist?
If you experience any foot care issues which do not resolve themselves naturally or through routine foot care within three weeks, it is recommended to seek the help of a healthcare professional.
To talk to a podiatrist (also known as a chiropodist) – https://maidenheadpodiatry.co.uk/what-is-a-podiatrist/ – about the options available regarding treatment, you can contact an NHS Podiatrist or a private practice Podiatrist.
In the NHS, through your GP, Specialist teams of rheumatologists, podiatrists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, along with specialist nurses, will provide the most effective care and treatment for patients with arthritis, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.
To contact an NHS Podiatrist, please contact your GP practice for information on an NHS referral (in some areas you can self-refer).
If you would like more information or an appointment with one of our Podiatrists give us a call on 01628 773588 and speak to our reception team.