What is it? / What causes the problem?
Gout is the result of an imbalance of uric acid in the body and manifests via a build-up of uric acid in the blood and small crystals may form which collect in the joint causing irritation and inflammation which can be very painful and severe.
Is it serious?
Apart from the severe pain that gout causes, most other effects of gout are uncommon but it can include kidney damage via crystals forming to create kidney stones which are notorious for being extremely painful to pass.
Who gets it?
1 in 200 people are affected by gout and more men than women are affected. It tends to appear in middle age but can run in families also.
How do I know I have it?
The main symptom of gout is waking up in the middle of the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe which is swollen. Usually only one of the big toes is affected. The pain lasts for a few hours and usually subsides then doesn’t return for a few months.
How do I prevent it?
Leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your chances of having attacks by
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating a healthy diet including what you drink (ie. avoiding too much alcohol or fizzy drinks)
- making sure there is plenty of Vitamin C in your diet
What are the treatments?
Gout can be controlled and regulated with anti-inflammatory drugs which your GP will be able to prescribe which alleviate the attack over 24 hours or so. An immediate measure is to levitate your leg to help reduce swelling along with the application of ice or cooling lotions whilst waiting for your medication to take effect.
Your local podiatrist will also be able to help alleviate issues by adapting your existing footwear with orthoses or other appliances which fit easily into your shoes and help redistribute pressure away from the affected parts.
Made to measure shoes can also be prescribed and your podiatrist will be able to advise you on the correct type of shoes to wear and where to obtain them. They can also provide protective shields for your toes or padding to relieve pressure and reduce friction. Any secondary problems like ulcers or corns can also be treated. They can also refer you to a specialist for more serious cases.
When should I see a podiatrist about it?
If you experience any foot care issues which do not resolve themselves naturally or through routine foot care within three weeks, it is recommended to seek the help of a healthcare professional such as your GP to refer you to your local NHS trust for free treatment but if you do not qualify for this, or need urgent attention, you should contact a private podiatrist.