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Family Foot & Ankle

What to Do During a Gout Attack

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How to manage pain from goutIf you or a loved one has ever experienced a gout attack, you’re probably familiar with all the prevention tips—avoid purines, don’t eat organ meats or seafood, etc. While those are great tips, they won’t bring you much comfort in the middle of the night, rudely awakened by a stabbing pain in your big toe.

Unfortunately, there’s no “miracle cure” to make the pain of a gout attack go away, but there are steps you can take to manage the pain as effectively as possible.

  • Remove your socks and elevate your foot. When your toe is swelling from gout, even the weight of a bedsheet can feel unbearable. Keeping the foot up and removing any sources of pressure will help with swelling and pain. Don’t try to go about your day during an acute flare-up—stay in bed, stay off your feet, and wait until the worst of the pain dies down.
  • Keep the joint cool. If you don’t have an icepack ready to go, you can use a bag of frozen veggies or ice cubes wrapped in a towel. Apply for no more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid damaging the skin.
  • If safe for you to do so, you can take an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen. If gout attacks are a regular problem for you, we may recommend or prescribe a stronger NSAID, such as naproxen. Those who cannot take NSAIDs safely may be prescribed colchicine instead, as an alternative.

Gout attacks, while quite painful, are usually self-limiting. Although residual discomfort can linger for days or even weeks, in most cases the worst of the pain blows over within 12-24 hours. Following the tips above can help you get through that period with as little pain as possible.

If you’ve experienced a gout attack, or see an increase in frequency or pain of attacks, don’t wait—visit Family Foot and Ankle Center as soon as you can. We’ll evaluate your condition, get you on the right treatment plan, and give you the tools and advice you need to manage your condition and prevent or minimize future attacks. To schedule an appointment at one of our 6 Greater Cincinnati locations, use the online links or call us at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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