What is gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain, typically in the big toe, but it can also occur in other joints, such as the midfoot or ankle. In cases where the inflammation is not as severe, larger joints, such as the knee, can occasionally become swollen and painful.

Who is affected?

Men, especially as they age, are more susceptible to the condition.

You may also be more likely to develop gout if you are overweight, drink alcohol, have experienced menopause, or take certain medications, such as diuretics (water pills) or blood pressure medications. Have high cholesterol, blood pressure, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, or diabetes. Have undergone surgery or sustained an injury.

What are the symptoms?

Pain is one of the main symptoms you may experience along with the joint feeling hot, swollen and the skin turning red over the affected joint.

Please get in touch if you are experiencing symptoms similar to gout. We can help alleviate them and support you through the next steps.

If the pain is severe and you have a high temperature, such as feeling hot and shivering, or if you feel nauseous or are unable to eat, you may have an infection in your joint. At this point, you will require immediate medical assistance.

What causes a gout attack, and how long does an attack last?

You may experience an acute gout attack if you have a fever-causing illness, become dehydrated, injure a joint, or take certain medications.

Gout attacks typically last between five and seven days before they subside. If you seek treatment right away, it might not result in permanent joint damage.

How to manage Gout episodes

The management of gout will typically involve a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.

Gout attacks are commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation. Footwear, orthotics and strapping to relieve pain.

If the pain and swelling do not improve you may be given steroids as tablets or an injection.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions include lifestyle changes such as regular exercise/ weight loss, reducing purine intake through diet and reducing alcohol consumption. These all will help to reduce burden of disease related factors associated with gout.

How can a podiatrist help in the manifestation of Gout?

Our podiatrists can help with pain management. To help reduce impairment and the disability that gout may cause in your life, we offer our patients palliative nail and skin care, wound care, advice on appropriate footwear, taping to her relieve symptoms and orthoses to help support the feet.

Gout sufferers require supportive footwear that fits their feet comfortably, has a wide opening, is made of flexible materials, and has adjustable straps. Finding shoes that are wide enough, functional for work, and aesthetically pleasing can be one of the main obstacles.

We advise in conjunction with NHS England. If you have an episode of gout: 

• Take your medicines as soon as possible
• Rest and raise your limb
• Keep the joint cool – apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, for up to 20 mins at a time
• Drink lots of water (unless your GP tells you not to)
• Try to keep bedclothes off the joint at night.
• Take any pressure off the joint.

To find out more about treating and preventing gout download our guide Gout

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