If you want to avoid waking up with a big toe that's bright red and throbbing in pain, you need to understand the gout causes that could trigger this kind of flare. Now, big toe pain isn't the only gout symptom we see in our podiatry practice in Powder Springs, GA. But sudden pain in the big toe joint is often the first sign of trouble, which is why Dr. Alvin Cowans is often the one to diagnose you with gout for the first time.

Now, in the office, we have many effective gout treatment options. They can reduce your pain and help you recover from a flare. However, we'd rather prevent future flares than treat your active pain. So, to do that, we need to give you a better understanding of this condition.

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that comes and goes in flares, rather than getting progressively worse. But what triggers a flare? Gout causes painful symptoms to develop when levels of uric acid in your blood become highly concentrated. As a result, your body forms uric crystals that can build up around the joints. And when that happens, you experience intense pain and inflammation, often first appearing in your big toe joint. Other common spots for gout pain include your wrists, fingers, ankles, and elbows. When it's gout, the pain will be excruciating for the first 12 hours of an attack, typically abating slightly after that. However, without treatment, pain will linger, for days or weeks, depending on the severity of your flare. Your skin will also be red and so tender to the touch that even the weight of a bed sheet will cause pain. Joints may be swollen, and the surrounding skin can feel warm. Finally, if left untreated, a gout flare can limit your mobility, impacting range of motion on your affected joint.

Understanding Gout Causes a big toe joint that's red and swollen due to gout causes

As we mentioned before, gout flares up when your body forms uric acid crystals. But what causes uric acid levels to rise in your body, allowing these crystals to form? Unfortunately, there are many gout causes that could be to blame. Here's what you need to know.

Dietary Triggers

If you follow a high-protein diet, you're actually increasing your risk for a gout flare. Why is that the case? You see, when your body breaks down substances known as purines, it produces uric acids. And certain proteins, such as liver, organ meats, red meats like steak, and even seafood, are rich in purines. As such, if you include too many of these purine-rich staples in your diet, your body could produce too much uric acid. In turn, concentrations in your blood can rise, triggering a painful arthritic flare up.

Now, if you throw alcohol into the mix, the problems could only get worse. Especially if you reach for a beer, as so many of us do while watching sports and munching on wings. You see, alcohol causes dehydration. And, if you're dehydrated, the concentration of uric acid will increase, since less fluid in your body means even small amounts of uric acid can't be diluted. As such, uric crystals can build up around your joints, simultaneously increasing your risk for gout. That's why our podiatrist in Powder Springs sees so many gout patients in the days following the Super Bowl: they're paying the price for all those game day snacks and drinks!

Carrying Extra Weight

Simply carrying around a few extra pounds can increase your risk for gout, since obesity causes your body to produce more uric acid. At the same time, being overweight impairs your kidney's ability to filter out that acid. In turn, uric crystals may form at a faster rate, making obesity one of the leading gout causes. Additionally, certain medications (especially those for hypertension, along with diuretics) can increase gout risk. So if you must take these medications for an extended period, be sure to discuss gout prevention at your next office visit.

Gout Causes: Age and Family History

Genetics can play a big role in your risk for this form of arthritis: if family members suffered from gout, you're more likely to experience flares as well. Also, if you're between the age of 30 and 50, you'll be at your highest risk for gout, although women's gout risk rises after they enter menopause.

Gout Treatment in Powder Springs, GA

Most gout flares can be treated without surgery. Typically, medications can help address your immediate flare-related pain. Then, you can prevent future flares with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication, depending on your specific condition.

Gout Medications for Pain

In the midst of an attack, we'll focus on reducing your pain. That could mean taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (or NSAIDS, like Advil or Motrin), if your pain is fairly mild. For worse discomfort, we can prescribe a stronger NSAID like Indocin. Some patients may also benefit from prescription Colchicine, since this medication of specifically formulated to target gout pain.

Prevent Future Flares by Targeting Gout Causes

After we resolve your immediate pain, it's time to focus on preventing future arthritic flare-ups. If you experience two or more gout flares in a calendar year, we will likely suggest taking medications, such as Allopurinol or Uloric, that prevent flare-ups by boosting your body's ability to filter uric acid.

However, even with medications, we also have to focus on your lifestyle choices. First, we'll look at your diet, making sure you reduce your intake of gout-triggering food and beverages. We'll also help you start incorporating more movement into your life, so you can reach and maintain a healthy weight. Together, these measures can eliminate many of the causes of gout, helping reduce your risk for painful attacks in the future.

Fast Gout Relief is Available!

Together, we can prevent many painful gout attacks. But if you do wake up in the night to a painful gout flare, don't hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to Dr. Cowans right away and ask for an immediate appointment.  As soon as you come in, we'll target your pain for fast relief.

But we also hope you come in to discuss gout before you get a painful wake up call. So, if you have a history of gout attacks, or recognized some of the risk factors in your life, come in now before you see a problem. That way, we can work together to protect your joints from the awful arthritis pain of gout!

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