Gout is a fairly common and complex form of inflammatory arthritis that is the result of an imbalance of uric acid within the body. The main characteristic of gout is a sudden and severe attack of pain, swelling and redness (which tends to happen most often within the big toe).
A gout attack can occur suddenly and without warning, often waking those who have it in the middle of the night and making them feel like their big toe is on fire. The symptoms can come and go, but often leave it so that anything putting any weight or pressure on the toe becomes intolerable.
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What causes gout?
Gout happens as a result of an imbalance of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is something that the body produces when it breaks down specific chemicals that are found within certain foods and drinks. In most situations, uric acid is a by-product and is passed through the kidneys and out of the body as waste within your urine.
In some cases though, the body can produce too much uric acid for the kidneys to handle and this results in an imbalance of uric acid that is known as hyperuricemia, where the uric acid forms crystals around the joints. These sharp crystals are what is known as gout, but it’s possible to have a higher level of uric acid without suffering from gout.
Is there anything that can be done to prevent gout?
There are certain lifestyle changes that you can make to help prevent gout from affecting you, including;
- Drinking plenty of water to avoid any potential dehydration and to help the function of the kidneys
- Regular exercise can help to manage your weight as being overweight or obese increases the amount of uric acid found within the body
You can also make changes to your diet habits that will help to limit the amount of purines, the chemical that is responsible for triggering the build-up of uric acid, that are in your body. This means limiting your intake of things like alcohol, shellfish, red meat and drinks or foods that contain a high amount of fructose.
How can gout be treated?
Gout can be treated and controlled with medication, but the first step is to determine whether the problem is gout or pseudo gout.
Pseudo gout presents itself in the same way that gout does, but is a completely different crystalline deposition and this needs to be ruled out for effective treatment. Different medications can be provided as necessary, depending on the exact condition that needs to be treated.
We advise drinking lots of water to help to flush the uric acid out of the system, fighting the cause of the problem, as well as offering magnetic, laser or shockwave therapies as a method of pain relief.
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Cosmetic podiatry is an emerging field in podiatric care that addresses the aesthetic cocerns as well as the functional concerns of the feet.
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