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If you have gout or know someone that does, you’ll know how excruciatingly painful it can get when you have an ‘attack’ or ‘flare up’ of gout. Gout is a type of arthritis and this can often be confused with the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis we often see - Osteoarthritis. The mechanism of action is actually very different - as are the symptoms and treatment.

Gout: The basics

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis resulting from too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid gets in the blood as we break down the purines naturally present in our food. Sometimes the kidneys have difficulty processing and getting rid of uric acid at a normal rate, and sometimes the production of the uric acid is just too high. Either way, we’re left with much more uric acid than we should normally have.

Long ago, gout was referred to as the ‘Rich Man’s Disease’ because it was noted that it was primarily those that were well off that developed gout. This was because certain foods contain much higher levels of purines - like red meats, shellfish, red wine and beer - which the rich could afford much more of. This still holds true today, in the sense that if you’d like to lower your chance of having a flare up of gout, you should cut back on these foods.

Gout attacks and the feet

A gout attack happens when the uric acid crystallises in a joint and for 90% of those with gout, this will happen at their big toe among other joints. This is because uric acid crystallises in cooler temperatures and our feet are often the coolest part of body. The pain of a gout flare can be intense and comes on suddenly and unexpectedly - day or night. The joint will feel warm, red and swollen.

Who is at risk?

Aside from consuming high levels of purines, genetic factors also often come into play. That is, if one of your family members has gout, you’re more likely to develop it too. Other factors include diuretic medications, aspirin and niacin (all which impair the body’s ability to remove uric acid from the blood), stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, surgery and obesity, among others. While gout can occur at any age, it typically affects men aged between 30 and 60 years old.

Treating gout

After a confirmed diagnosis of gout, your GP will run through with you any medications that may help, any dietary changes and anything else they see fit. We recommend taking small steps to reduce the likelihood of flares such as wearing warm socks and keeping your feet warm, staying active (when you don’t have a flare) to help other contributing factors to gout such as obesity, stress and diabetes. If you’re having a flare, make sure you don’t add additional pressure to the joint and that your shoes are helping and not hindering your pain and mobility!

Two weeks with Calcaneal Spur and finally got to see Doc. He sent me to Kevin @ Eleven and with One Appointment, he had me walking without Crutches. Yes! It still hurt. Did the Stretching, Rolling my Foot on a Spikey ball and Iced it occasionally. Return visit, after he had his Holiday, and I' am walking fine. They do NOT want to see me again, unless it deteriorates. Which it has not :-)
- Ivan CooKe