With the onset of warmer weather and longer days filled with BBQs and cookouts and days at the beach, most people don’t take notice of medical issues until the pain is unbearable and it has affected their daily routines or the problem suddenly came on without warning. There have been many situations where patients have a sudden, without warning, pain in their “big toe” or 1st metatarsalphalangeal joint, 1st MPJ, that caused an excruciating pain at night. Most patients describe the pain as so bad, that it woke them up out of their sound sleep from the night before. Many people usually dismiss these pains thinking that are from a possible injury, over usage during exercise, a bad trip to the salon, old age, arthritis, or from a pair of uncomfortable shoes. If you are or have experienced pains like this, you should see your podiatrist immediately.
The symptoms described above are classic for the diagnosis of Gout. Gout is an acute onset of very painful, swollen joints, that can be brought upon by the over-consumption of alcohol, red meats such as steak, large amounts of fish/crustacean foods, high sugar foods, medications such as diuretics, surgical stress, unknown infection, or acute medical illness may precede attacks. Most “gout attacks” occurs in the great toe in 70% of cases, followed by the ankle, knee, wrists, fingers, and the elbow. People who experience gout pain all have complained that they were not able to walk, drive a car, they had to call out from work, unable to put any pressure on the affected foot, and it can ultimately destroy one’s quality of life. Gout attacks are sudden and dramatic and usually occur at night. Historically, gout has been described as the “rich mans’ disease” or the “disease of kings”, because in the past only the financially well off were able to afford the consumption of red meat and wine (alcohol) on a regular basis.
In our Western population, gout can affect anyone at any time. Men over the age of 40 are more frequently diagnosed with gout than women, but in the past 20 to 30 years, the female population has been on an increase with the diagnosis of gout. Upon a physical examination, a person’s foot will present with a red, hot, swollen foot or toe. A woman’s foot may be up to 4 degrees warmer than usual, if suspicious of gout. Once proper x-rays are taken and a complete history is discussed, a proper diagnosis can be made. Studies also have shown that in the female population, women are more likely to develop gout symptoms in their knees, toes, and tips of their fingers. Gout attacks can last anywhere from less than 12 hours to several days and with the proper medication and diet control, the pain and symptoms can subside within one week. If a gout attack is left untreated, patients, men and women alike, can lead to the ultimate destruction of the joint and require surgery.
If there are any other questions feel free to contact Dr. Theall’s Gentle Touch Foot Care office for all your foot and ankle needs and concerns at 973 673 -3668. Remember to maintain a balanced for your bodies’ needs, and your body will take care of you.