What’s Behind Gout?

At Patrick Fettinger, DPM, we usually see an uptick in the number of cases of gout we treat in our Fairfield County patients at this time of the year. One reason for this is a common trigger for gout is eating certain foods such as red meat, shellfish, and consuming alcohol like red wine, and brandy, often featured in festive holiday menus.

Gout 101

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by an excessive amount of uric acid building up in the body. Your body produces uric acid as a by-product of the breakdown of purines, chemicals found naturally in your body, and certain foods. Typically, your kidneys eliminate uric acid, but if your body overproduces uric acid or your kidneys excrete too little, it can crystallize in your joints, causing extreme pain.

Signs of An Attack

How do you know if you are suffering a gout attack? The first sign is excruciating pain in a joint, most often at the base of your big toe. It is the most common site for gout because uric acid is sensitive to colder temperatures and your feet are the coldest part of the body is farthest from your heart. Gout can occur in other joints as well, however. In addition to pain, you will see signs of inflammation: swelling and redness. The area around the joint may also feel hot and tender. Gout attacks often occur during the night, waking the sufferer out of a sound sleep.

Treatment and Prevention

If you believe you have gout, contact our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office for an appointment. Our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick J. Fettinger, will examine your toe and may perform one or more of the following tests to confirm a gout diagnosis: joint fluid test, x-ray, blood test, ultrasound, and dual-energy computerized tomography.

A foot doctor may prescribe medication for your gout. There are two types of medication: reducing inflammation, treating immediate symptoms, and preventing future attacks. The treatment will depend on the severity of the attack and whether this is a recurring problem.

Dr. Fettinger can also help you determine what triggers your gout. In addition to diet, other risk factors for gout include: being overweight, certain medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, some medications, and a recent injury or surgery.

Our foot doctor will help you develop a strategy for avoiding this painful problem in the future.

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