Gout: The Arthritis Related to Diet
For many people, the word “
arthritis” refers to a condition of stiff, painful joints experienced by elderly
men and women and thought to develop naturally over time. There is certainly
a grain of truth behind this in the case of osteoarthritis, but the disease
actually comes in over 100 different forms. Each develops in a different
manner and causes its own unique problems. In the case of gout, the condition
is caused by a byproduct of food breakdown and can lead to intense pain.
Why Gout Develops
While other forms of this disease develop from wear-and-tear over time
(osteoarthritis) or autoimmune issues (rheumatoid arthritis), gout is
caused by the way your body breaks down certain foods. A natural byproduct
of this process is uric acid. When your body either produces too much
or cannot effectively flush the excess out, uric acid settles and builds
up in your joints. Over time, it begins to crystallize. These uric crystals
have sharp points that irritate the soft tissues surrounding the affected joints.
Gout symptoms almost always have a sudden onset and give little warning
in advance. They often happen at night and include:
Intense joint pain. The condition frequently affects the big toe’s metatarsophalangeal
joint (where the toe meets the foot), which is where the sharp pain tends
to be experienced. The severe pain can last anywhere from four to twelve
hours after it starts.
Lingering discomfort. Following the initial wave of intense pain, there will be a period of
joint discomfort that can range anywhere from a couple of days to a few
weeks. This timeframe generally becomes longer with subsequent flares.
Redness and inflammation. In addition to the pain and impaired range of motion, affected joints
can become reddened, warm, tender, and swollen.
Limited range of motion. As this arthritic condition progresses, there will be a decrease in joint mobility.
Gout Treatment Options
Treatment for this form of arthritis can be thought of in two different
ways. First, there are lifestyle changes that can benefit the condition.
When these are not enough, medication can be prescribed to provide additional help.
Lifestyle and home remedies are centered on dietary choices and exercise.
Reducing your consumption of sweetened drinks (especially those sweetened
by fructose) and alcoholic beverages is a great starting point. Additionally,
limiting or eliminating certain foods that are high in purines—a
natural substance that is metabolized into uric acid—should be a
goal of your dietary plan. Organ meats, seafood, and red meat are all
examples of high-purine foods.
Some medications are used to treat (and prevent) acute attacks. These include
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, and corticosteroids.
Others, including medications that block uric acid production or improve
its removal, are intended to prevent gout complications.
Houston Foot Specialists can certainly provide care for this type of arthritis,
but we’d like to help you prevent the condition from developing
in the first place. Here are some tips to reduce your risk:
Limit the amounts of fish, poultry, and meat in your diet. These foods result in heightened levels of uric acid and can either trigger
attacks or lead to an onset of the condition.
Rely on low-fat dairy products to provide protein. Since you need to limit or avoid other protein sources, make sure that
your diet includes plenty of low-fat yogurt, cheese, and milk.
Drink plenty of fluids. Keeping your body properly hydrated will help to flush out excessive uric
acid and prevent a buildup from happening in your big toe joints.
Avoid (or at least limit) alcohol. We did just recommend drinking plenty of fluids, but it is in your best
interest to limit or avoid alcoholic beverages. It is important to note
that beer tends to be a major offender, so perhaps choose a different
drink. If you have any questions, simply contact Aleisha Allen, DPM.
Manage your weight. There are many health reasons for keeping your bodyweight in a healthy
range, and you can add this one to that list.
Houston’s First Choice for Comprehensive Foot Care
Our Houston office provides treatment for a wide range of conditions that
affect the feet and ankles, including gout. If you, or any of your family
members, are experiencing the painful symptoms that come with this form
of arthritis, contact
Aleisha Allen, DPM and her team at
Houston Foot Specialists. Call us at (713) 467-8886 for more information about how we can help
you. If you are ready to schedule an appointment, you can do so via our
online form found here on our website.