Arthritis of the feet and ankles can be due to an injury or joint deformity and is often accompanied by inflammation, pain, and stiffness.1 It can become so severe that one loses the ability to walk; however, these symptoms could also be caused by a serious condition known as gout.
Here is an explanation of what gout is, how it differs from other types of joint pain, and how gout sufferers can find relief.
A gout is a form of arthritis and a very painful one that forms when there is too much uric acid build-up in the body.2 When uric acid builds up, sharp crystals form in the joints and the big toes are very susceptible as target points.3 Gout can vary in symptoms and severity. Asymptomatic hyperuricemia shows no symptoms, acute gout involves severe pain, interval gout describes when time exists between attacks and chronic gout is when attacks become more frequent or pain persists for longer periods of time.4
Men are more likely to suffer from gout than women, especially men who are overweight, drink an excess of alcohol, or who have a family history of the disease.2 Gout can also be triggered by foods that are rich in purines, such as liver, dried beans, and anchovies.5 An estimated one in 200 adults will experience a gout attack in their lifetimes.
How Gout Differs from Other Arthritis Pain
Many people’s first experience with gout begins in the big toe, often waking a person up from sleep with sharp pain, swelling, redness, and heat.6 Gout pain is often described as stiffness in the feet and ankle joints because it commonly affects the insteps, heels, and ankles too.
Gout pain is distinctive from other types of arthritis pain because it typically occurs in attacks that develop quickly over a few hours.2 Just one or multiple joints can be affected and cause the surrounding skin to appear red and inflamed. Unlike other arthritis pain that is constantly felt or triggered by certain actions, gout pain usually lasts for a few days and goes away entirely within about a week.1,7
How Gout Sufferers Can Relieve Pain
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, corticosteroids, and colchicine are commonly recommended to treat acute gout attacks.2,7 Arthritis pain relief creams like JointFlex can also help reduce pain without a prescription when massaged daily into the feet and ankles. Studies have shown that the medication allopurinol may help prevent future gout attacks by lowering the amount of uric acid in the blood, and a diet rich in vitamin C may help prevent at-risk individuals from developing the condition.8,9
Healthy lifestyle choices can also help prevent future gout attacks, including a balanced diet free of purine-rich foods, plenty of water, limited alcohol, regular exercise, and maintaining an optimal body weight.2,10 During a gout attack, individuals may find relief in wrapping an ice pack in a towel and applying it to the feet and ankles for 15-20 minutes. Other remedies to relieve gout pain include using a cane to walk, elevating the feet, and managing stress through calming activities to prevent the condition from becoming aggravated.
REFERENCES for JOINT PAIN and GOUT
1. What Is Arthritis? Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 29, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php.
2. Edwards, N. L. (2018 May). Gout. The Merck Manual: Consumer Verison. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/gout-and-calcium-pyrophosphate-arthritis/gout.
3. Uric acid – blood. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003476.htm.
4. Harris, M. D., Hall, E., Siegel, L. B., & Alloway, J. A. (1999 February 15). Gout and hyperuricemia. American Family Physician, 59, 925-934. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from https://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0215/p925.html.
5. Gout diet: Do’s and don’ts. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/articles/best-and-worst-gout-foods.php.
6. Gout. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/gout#tab-symptoms.
7. Foley, C. (2018 September 17). How long does a gout attack last? These three factors determine the answer. University Health News. October 30, 2018 from https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/bones-joints/how-long-does-gout-last/.
8. Allopurinol. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682673.html.
9. Gout and supplements: What you need to know. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/articles/gout-and-supplements-7.php.
10. Gout. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.html.
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