Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night feeling like you’ve just stubbed your toe, even though you know you haven’t? If so, you may have experienced a gout attack. A complicated form of arthritis, this disease causes severe, sudden, painful flare-ups in a joint (typically your big toe), accompanied by swelling, tenderness, warm and red skin, and even a strong burning sensation.
Although the worst of the pain is usually gone after half a day at most, discomfort may linger for days or even weeks. Limited range of motion and even peeling and itching are common symptoms that may be longer-lasting or emerge after time.
What causes gout? Why do you get these attacks? What can you do about them?
You Are What You Eat
While this is one of the more painful forms of arthritis, it’s also one of the most controllable. In short—it’s all about your diet.
Flare-ups occur when urate crystals get trapped in your joint. Urate crystals are formed when you have too much uric acid in your blood stream, and uric acid is a byproduct of purines. In short—avoid eating foods that are high in purines, and you can often prevent an attack before it happens. Eat lots of purines, though, and you could be in a world of pain.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
- Meats, particularly red meat and organ meats such as liver or gizzards.
- Poultry and wild game. Turkey and goose are the highest in purines and thus the riskiest choices; chicken and duck may be safer to eat in moderation.
- Most seafood, especially scallops, herring, sardines, and tuna.
- Although most veggies are fine, asparagus and cauliflower are higher in protein content and should be eaten more sparingly.
- Alcohol, particularly beer. An occasional glass of wine is probably fine.
- Sugary foods, especially those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, should be limited.
Instead of Those, Eat These
- Fresh fruits, green veggies, and tomatoes. Cherries may be especially good for reducing the risk of gout problems.
- Low-fat dairy products such as cheese, eggs, buttermilk, and low-fat milk and yogurt.
- Nuts, including peanut butter.
- Good drinks include water and coffee.
Other Ways to Manage Gout
While maintaining a healthy, low-purine diet is the easiest and most important step you can take to manage a painful attack and prevent future ones, there are a few other steps you can take. Those who are overweight or have a complicating medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes may be more likely to have elevated uric acid levels even with a healthy diet. Properly managing these conditions will help you reduce your risk of these episodes, too.
When to See the Experts
If you’ve experienced a severe, painful attack, especially with warm, tender skin over swollen joints, set up an appointment with Family Foot and Ankle Center as soon as possible—even if the pain has stopped. Uric acid buildup can significantly damage your joints even after symptoms recede, so it’s critical to manage the condition carefully.
In addition to your at-home diet modifications and pain management (OTC painkillers, rest, ice), we may prescribe stronger medications to help you deal with the disease and prevent future complications. In certain cases, you may benefit from medications that block uric acid production or improve your kidneys’ ability to filter it out of your bloodstream.
Don’t put up with frequent, painful attacks. Call us today and set up an appointment at one of our six Greater Cincinnati locations, or request one online. Dial (513) 728-4800 if you’re in Ohio, or (859) 282-1572 in Kentucky.