Understanding Gout


You’ve got to start by knowing a little something about purines to understand gout.

You eat purines every day because they’re in many foods. You eat them, and they break down into a waste product called uric acid, which you then excrete through your urine. So far, so good.

The problem is that some people ingest too many purines. Too many purines make too much uric acid, and the kidneys have difficulty keeping up. They can’t get rid of it fast enough. Uric acid builds up, crystallizes, and settles into joints. Very often, the crystals settle in the big toe joint. That’s gout.

Symptoms of gout
Sudden and excruciating pain in your big toe is a classic gout symptom. It’s often accompanied by:

  • red, shiny skin around the big toe joint
  • warmth
  • tenderness (even the light touch of a sheet or blanket can send you reeling)
  • swelling
  • burning
  • throbbing

Many people who suffer from a gout attack are “one and done” – they won’t suffer twice in their lifetime. However, others will experience frequent attacks days, weeks, or months later. They have chronic gout, sometimes called gouty arthritis.

How to avoid gout attacks
Chronic gout requires some lifestyle changes:

  • avoid foods high in purines such as red meat and organ meat (tongue, liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)
  • drink lots of water to help dilute uric acid and prevent the buildup
  • limit your consumption of alcohol and high fructose corn syrup
  • lose weight if you need to
  • keep high blood pressure in check

Treat a gout attack with RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If these don’t help your pain, our experienced podiatric surgeons, Dr. Craig B. Frey, Dr. Megan L. Oltmann, and Dr. Jim Swienconek, can offer effective medications and steroid injections to speed relief. Call Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland in Solon, Ohio at (440) 903-1041 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We offer a modern office with the latest technology for podiatric patients in Portage, Geauga, Cuyahoga, and Summit Counties, proudly serving our patients from Solon, Aurora, Bedford, Chagrin Falls, Hudson, Macedonia, and Twinsburg.