Gout (gouty arthritis) is a condition caused by a buildup of the salts of uric acid – a normal byproduct of the diet – in the joints. A single big toe joint is commonly the affected area, possibly because it is subject to so much pressure in walking; attacks of gouty arthritis are extremely painful, perhaps more so than any other form of arthritis. Men are much more likely to be afflicted than women. Some research suggests that diet heavy in red meat, rich sauces, shellfish, and brandy is popularly associated with gout. However, other protein compounds in foods such as lentils and beans may play a role.
The main symptom of gout is waking up in the middle of the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe, which is swollen. Usually only one of the big toes is affected. The pain lasts for around three or four hours and will then subside and usually not return for a few months. It can be controlled by prescribed medications. The application of ice or cooling lotions will help during an acute phase.
Specially-made shoes can sometimes relieve the pain associated with gout.