A flare-up on the grill makes for a great char on a steak, and a flare kept on a boat is a smart reassurance in case of emergency, but gout flares are a far cry from anything good. On the contrary, gout is a painful form of arthritis characterized by attacks, or flares, that can come on unexpectedly and inhibit you from doing not only the activities you love, but also simple day-to-day things, including sleep! Unlike osteoarthritis, attacks frequently occur in the middle of the night, jarring you awake with sudden, intense pain. Fortunately, Southern Tier Podiatry is here to help.
What’s Going On?
Sometimes referred to as gouty arthritis, this condition occurs when too much uric acid builds up in your blood, resulting in the formation of hard crystals within your joints. This causes inflammation and extreme pain, often at night and most typically in the big toe, although it can occur in other joints as well. You may also experience other symptoms including a burning sensation, redness, immobility, and extreme tenderness to touch, so much so that even the weight of your bed sheet can be excruciating. Pain can go on for hours, days, even weeks, and flares can reoccur, damaging your joints over time if the condition is not treated.
Reducing Risk Factors
Uric acid is actually produced naturally in your body, but there are various reasons why you could end up with too much in your blood. Your body may be inherently prone to producing more than it needs, or your kidneys may excrete too little. Excessive weight and consumption of alcohol can also increase your risk, as can certain foods high in purines which promote higher levels of uric acid in your blood. Luckily, your risk can be reduced with some preventative measures:
- Eliminate triggers – limit alcohol, especially beer, as well as highly sweetened beverages. Also, avoid foods high in purines like organ and red meats, seafood, anchovies, and sardines.
- Make some lifestyle changes – sticking to an exercise routine and eating a nutritious, low purine diet can help to maintain a healthy weight and keep uric acid levels in check. Drinking plenty of water and opting for low-fat dairy products can also prove to be helpful.
- Medication – if eliminating triggers and implementing lifestyle changes isn’t enough to ward off flares, there are medications that can help to manage uric acid levels in your blood as well.
Getting the Help You Need
If you are awakened in the night by a painful gout attack, elevating your foot can help ease discomfort, along with an ice pack, anti-inflammatory medication, and a call to Southern Tier Podiatry. Dr. Marilyn S. Boyuka can help you determine a treatment plan to minimize your pain and reduce your chances of recurrence. You can reach our office by calling (607) 217-5668. We happily serve Vestal, NY and all those in the surrounding communities. Don’t let gouty arthritis keep you up at night, or keep you from the activities you enjoy. Call and make an appointment today or use our convenient online contact form.