Gout

Gout is an inflammatory arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in a high concentration in the blood.

 

Uric acid is a by-product of purines, which are chemicals that are naturally found in our food. Uric acid may build up because the kidneys have difficulty processing the acid at a regular rate, or because our diet contains too much food that is purine-rich, like red meat, shellfish, red wine and beer.

 

When uric acid is present in high concentrations in the blood, it can crystallise, causing severe pain and discomfort. For 90% of people, these crystals will develop at either the big toe joint or other joints in the feet. This location in the feet occurs because cooler temperatures promote crystallisation, and our feet are often one of the coolest partest of our bodies.

What does gout feel like?

When the uric acid crystallises, this is known as an ‘attack’ or ‘flare-up’ of gout. You’ll feel sharp pain that can come on suddenly, and the joint may feel warm, red and swollen.

 

 

Are you more likely to develop gout?

Gout can affect anyone at any time, but often affects men between the ages of 30 and 60.

If one of your family members has had gout, you are more likely to develop it too, so should be careful about consuming food that has excess purine levels. Other contributing factors may include aspirin, diuretics, stress, high blood pressure, surgery and diabetes.

How is gout treated?

The first step to managing gout is to ensure that a high level of uric acid is causing your symptoms with a blood test. This will rule out other causes of damage to the joints causing your pain.

 

Aside from reducing your intake of purine-rich foods, we recommend helping wearing warm socks and keeping your feet warm to help prevent crystallisation. Staying active and exercising (when you don’t have a flare) will help manage other factors that contribute to gout such as obesity, stress and diabetes.

During a flare, try to avoid adding additional pressure to the affected joints. Wear comfortable shoes that help you feel better, and don’t put more weight on the affected joints.

 

We often help out patients with gout by conducting a comprehensive biomechanical examination of your feet and legs, looking for any musculoskeletal factors that may be contributing to your pain. If suitable, we may use comfortable custom orthotics to help relieve painful symptoms that occur due to restrictions in the mobility of your feet.