Your entire body is connected in so many ways. Some connections are obvious, such as the legs and their connections to the hips. Others are less obvious on the surface, like how poor circulation can lead to cramping in your lower limbs. One of these connections includes your joint health and the acid levels in your blood. You see this in gout—and it can cause excruciating pain for your toes and feet.
Gout is a complicated and painful type of arthritis. At the same time, it is completely different from the other kinds of arthritis your joints typically develop. Rather than wear and tear grinding down the protective layers between your bones, needle-like crystals in your joint spaces scrape them away and cause inflammation.
This condition develops slowly over time when your body struggles to deal with elevated uric acid levels in your blood. This acid is created when your body breaks down purines—a type of chemical—in your food. Normally it’s dissolved in your blood and filtered out by the kidneys. Some people, however, produce too much uric acid, or have a hard time filtering it out. As the acid builds up, it can crystalize. These crystals collect in the joint spaces where the sharp ends scrape against the soft tissues, causing painful periodic flare-ups.
Gout in the Long Run
Gouty arthritis can actually affect any of the joints in your limbs, but it’s most common in the big toe. Typically the condition starts there, then progresses to other joints unless it is treated appropriately. The pain isn’t constant; actually, it happens in waves. These gout attacks strike without warning, usually at night. You feel a sudden and intense pain in the affected joint. Your toe will appear red and swollen, particularly during the first day when the discomfort is at its most intense. It may also be highly sensitive to touch.
As the flare-up subsides, the pain will decrease but continue to linger for anywhere from several days to several weeks. Your toe, or any other affected joint, will have limited range of motion. Eventually the overt pain will disappear and you’ll experience relief for a period of time, but this doesn’t mean your foot is “better.” This is a chronic disease, so there is no “cure” for it.
Controlling Your Gouty Arthritis
You will need to get a complete exam to rule out similar conditions. Our experts Dr. David Laurino, Dr. Antonius Su, and Dr. Darick Freestone will evaluate your lower limbs and use tests to diagnose the condition. From there our team can help you get the best treatment.
Acute treatment starts the moment a flare-up strikes. You will need to get an appointment right away and begin managing the pain. This may mean medications to control the problem. A large part of general treatment is managing the problem day-to-day, however. You’ll most likely need to make changes to your diet to avoid or limit high-purine foods. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Exercise regularly, too, to keep joints mobile, improve your circulation, and possibly lose some weight.
Your entire body is meant to work together to keep you mobile and healthy. When something like gout develops, it’s not just your feet that are affected. Your whole body suffers as well. You don’t have to let the disease control you, inhibit your mobility, or keep you from doing what you love. Our team of experts at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona will gladly help you eliminate your pain and live a healthier life. Use our website to make an appointment with us. You can also call or fax our two Arizona offices: dial (480) 963-9000 or fax (480) 963-0375 for Chandler, or call (480) 981-1800 or fax (480) 981-0229 for Gilbert.