It’s hard to “stay on your toes” when one of them is in excruciating pain! There can be many reasons for toe pain, from bunions to ingrown toenails as we’ve already discussed in previous posts, but there is one topic we haven’t touched on yet: gout.
Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. It often happens in the joint at the base of the big toe (metatarsal-phalangeal joint). Podagra is a fancy name for gout involving the big toe.
Gout is caused by having high levels of uric acid in your body. Uric acid is a by product of protein metabolism. When you digest and build other proteins, uric acid is left over, kind of like the exhaust from a car engine. Your body may produce too much uric acid or have a difficult time getting rid of it. Either way, it increases in the blood and then gets to the joints. If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints, uric acid crystals form. These crystals cause the joint to swell and become very, very painful.
Not everyone with high uric acid levels in the blood will end up with gout attacks though. Gout may run in families. Men are much more likely to have gout than women. And some research suggests that a diet heavy in red meat, rich sauces, shellfish, and alcohol is correlated with gout.
Gout is easy to identify! Symptoms develop suddenly and hurt BADLY! Symptoms frequently start at night and my patients often describe it as throbbing, crushing, or excruciating. The toe joint may be warm, red, and very tender. It can even hurt to lay a sheet or blanket over it. And there may be a fever as well.
To treat gout, I typically have my patients take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Heat, from a warm washcloth, may help reduce the pain as well. I may also recommend certain dietary changes. But for the most part, lab studies and prescription medications are critical to obtain. All in all, gout is very treatable!
If you are looking for a podiatrist in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday right away for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in his Bradenton Podiatry office or Sarasota Podiatry office.