Risk Factors And Potential Causes Of Gout
Gout strikes men more often than women until women undergo menopause, and then women experience increased risk. Being overweight or obese, having recent surgery, and experiencing a trauma also increase your risk, as well as your family history.
Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines a substance found naturally in your body, and also in high-protein red meat, organ meat, and certain types of seafood. In addition, alcoholic drinks, beer, and beverages sweetened with fructose can raise your natural uric acid levels. When your body either creates too much uric acid or excretes too little, it can lead to gout. Hundreds of years ago, gout was called the disease of kings because the average peasant couldnt afford such rich food and drink.
Medical conditions like untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease can also increase your chances of developing gout, as does taking certain medications, such as thiazide diuretics and low-dose aspirin.
Gout: Dr Rosemary Leonard Advises On Symptoms And Treatment
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Gout can cause sudden and severe joint pain which is most common in areas around the end of your limbs like your ankles, feet, knees and fingers. While symptoms of ankle gout can be easily confused with sprains or cellulitis, there are a few telltale signs which can help you spot the difference. With everything from pain intensity to mobility playing a part in detecting ankle gout these are the key arthritis symptoms you should never ignore.
How Long Does Gout In The Ankle Last
Gout flare-ups can last for several hours at a time, but you may feel pain in your ankle for days or weeks. Some people only have one flare-up in their life, while others have them several times a year.
Keep in mind that gout is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts for a long time and requires ongoing management. Dietary changes and medications can make a big difference, but youll also be at risk of having a flare-up.
Keep in mind that it can also take some time to find the right combination of diet changes and medication that works for you. Dont be discouraged if things dont seem to be improving right away.
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Achilles Tendon Pain Or Gout
Most people would associate gout with the big toe joint pain or the ankle , knee joint redness or swelling. Some patients will present with achilles tendon insertional pain, where the achilles insert into the heel bone in the back of the heel. How to tell the difference? There are not clear cut way but history will help, such as pain coming on all of a sudden overnight, severe pain and redness as well as lack of history of trauma to the achilles tendon. Pain all of a sudden overnight or after a big protein fueled meal would be a significant part of the history that may point the diagnosis more towards gout. Treatment for such would include steroid pack, immobilization with a boot as well as antiinflammatories. Gout typically will respond quickly to steroid packs, the immobilization would prevent any achilles tendon ruptures during the recovery. Typically, we do not inject into the achilles insertion but rather the sheath of the achilles tendon in order to avoid spontaneous ruptures. It is a balancing act in dealing with this condition. Lab work such as uric acid level may be of help but low uric acid or normal levels would not exclude the diagnosis of gout but does help to rule out chronic gout where the patient has consistent elevated uric acid levels.
When in doubt, immobilize and seek help at the Family Foot and Leg Center, PA for yourself or your loved ones. 239 430 3668
How Long Gout Pain Lasts
Characteristically, gout pain comes on rapidly and the joint becomes red and swollen, with the swelling reaching a peak within the first 24 hours of the attack, Dr. FitzGerald explains.
At first, gout usually affects just one joint, but can affect more than one joint, sometimes adjacent joints. Flares typically resolve on their own over the next seven to 14 days. Treating a gout flare with medications can help it resolve faster. Medications for gout flares typically include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or naproxen
A gout attack may occur only one or two times a year or even only a few times ever. However, gout can become chronic, leading to frequent attacks and flares that occur at least a few times a year or never completely resolve. Chronic gout can damage and deform joints and can sometimes be mistaken for other inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
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Preventing Future Ankle Gout Symptoms
After surviving an arduous bout of gout ankle, keeping the body in a state of greater health by keeping the body chemistry on the more alkaline side is wise. Minimizing the causes of gout can be done in several ways:
- Strong breathing awareness and habits keep the blood healthy and oxygenated
- Maintaining consistent hydration is essential for proper pH balance
- A diet of alkalizing foods, and foods that support strong kidney and liver function is fundamental
- Managing stress is important for minimizing the effects of acid-forming hormones in the inner terrain
- Being aware of, and avoiding toxic environmental chemicals is a good way to retard the slow accumulation of low-level toxicity from seemingly mundane household products
- Consistent exercise and sleep are the basics to health, and obvious and easy measures to employ for guarding against the risk of gout
Remember! When symptoms of gout in the ankle start to become apparent, it is critical to take fast action.
Where Does A Gout Attack Occur
Gout often attacks the largest joint in your big toe. However, it can also attack the foot, ankle knees, hands, or wrists. Intense pain, redness, and swelling can start with no warning, although you may have warning signs of an impending attack. If you start to feel tingling, burning, or itching in a joint, your body is giving you a warning signal that a flare-up is imminent.
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What Can Trigger A Gout Attack
Several things can cause the crystals to shake loose into your joint cavity, triggering an attack. These include:
- a knock or injury to the joint
- an illness that may make you feverish
- having an operation
- having an unusually large meal, especially a fatty meal
- drinking too much alcohol
- starting urate lowering therapy, especially at a high dose, or not taking your treatment regularly each day.
When Is Surgery Considered For Gout
The question of surgery for gout most commonly comes up when a patient has a large clump of urate crystals , which is causing problems. This may be if the tophus is on the bottom of the foot, and the person has difficulty walking on it, or on the side of the foot making it hard to wear shoes. An especially difficult problem is when the urate crystals inside the tophus break out to the skin surface. This then can allow bacteria a point of entry, which can lead to infection, which could even track back to the bone. Whenever possible, however, we try to avoid surgery to remove tophi. The problem is that the crystals are often extensive, and track back to the bone, so there is not a good healing surface once the tophus is removed. In some rare cases, such as when a tophus is infected or when its location is causing major disability, surgical removal may be considered.
Since it is hard to heal the skin after a tophus is removed, a skin graft may be needed. For this reason, we often try hard to manage the tophus medically. If we give high doses of medication to lower the urate level, such as allopurinol, over time the tophus will gradually reabsorb. In severe cases, we may consider using the intravenous medication pegloticase , since it lowers the urate level the most dramatically, and can lead to the fastest shrinkage of the tophus.
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Whats The Outlook For People With Gout
Untreated gout can lead to permanent joint damage. The buildup of uric acid in the joints and soft tissue is called tophus. Some people with gout can also develop other health problems, such as severe arthritis, kidney stones and heart disease. Its important to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider.
Preventive Measures For Ankle Pain
Try the following methods to help prevent ankle pain and injury.
- Watch your step closely when walking, particularly on uneven surfaces
- Warm up before doing any strenuous exercises or sports
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes
- Watch your weight
- Eat a balanced diet
Free yourself from ankle pain by knowing its symptoms, causes, and treatment. You’ll be back on two healthy feet in no time.
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What Are The Causes And Triggers Of Gout In The Ankle
The buildup of uric acid in the body is known as hyperuricemia. Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines. These are compounds found in all your cells. You can also find purines in several types of food, especially red meat and some seafood, as well as alcohol and some sugar-sweetened drinks.
Usually, uric acid passes through your kidneys, which help to eliminate extra uric acid in your urine. But sometimes theres too much uric acid for your kidneys to handle. In other cases, the kidneys cant process a typical amount of uric acid due to an underlying condition.
As a result, more uric acid circulates throughout your body, ending up in your ankle as uric acid crystals.
4 percent of adults in the United States. It tends to be more common in men because women usually have lower levels of uric acid. But after menopause, women start to have higher uric acid levels. As a result, women tend to develop gout at an older age than men do.
Experts arent sure why some people produce more uric acid or have trouble processing it. But theres evidence that the condition is often genetic.
Other things that may increase your risk of developing gout include:
- consuming a lot of high-purine foods
- consuming foods and drinks, especially alcohol, that increase uric acid production
- being overweight
What To Do During An Attack
- take any medication you’ve been prescribed as early as possible after you notice an attack this should start to have an effect within two or three days
- rest and raise the limb
- avoid knocking or damaging the affected joint
- keep the joint cool remove surrounding clothing and apply an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel
- ensure you’re well hydrated
Apply the ice pack to your joint for around 20 minutes. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin and don’t apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time because this could damage the skin.
If necessary, you can keep reapplying an ice pack to your skin during an attack, but you should wait until your skin has returned to a normal temperature first.
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Can It Lead To Any Complications
If left unmanaged, gout-related inflammation can cause permanent damage to your ankle joint, especially if you have frequent flare-ups.
Over time, lumps of uric acid crystals, called tophi, can also form around your ankle. These lumps arent painful, but they can cause additional swelling and tenderness during a flare-up.
What Increases Your Chances For Gout
The following make it more likely that you will develop hyperuricemia, which causes gout:
- Being male
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What Are The Symptoms Of Gout In The Ankle
The main symptom of gout in the ankle is pain and discomfort in the surrounding area. Keep in mind that gout is often unpredictable, regardless of the joint its affecting. You might go weeks or even months without any symptoms, only to wake up with a burning pain in your ankle.
In some cases, gout starts out in one of your big toes before moving on to other areas, such as your ankle. Over time, these flare-ups may last longer than they previously did.
Other symptoms you might feel from gout in your ankle include:
Joints Affected By Gout
Gout can affect any joint, but some joints are more likely to be affected than others. Joints commonly affected include the big toe, the foots instep, heel, ankle, and knee.2 Less often, gout affects the elbow, wrist, fingertips, or spine.2–7
Gout is acute, painful swelling in the joints from uric acid buildup. Common areas include the foot and big toe.
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Pain That Wakes You Up
More often than not, gout flare-ups happen in the middle of the night, interrupting a peaceful slumber with intense pain.
“It’s true, gout attacks are more common overnight,” Dr. Seligman says. But exactly why is a bit of mystery.
One theory: “It has been postulated that this relates to cooler body temperature at night,” she says.
The foot is cooler because it is the farthest body part away from the heart.
At cooler temperatures, uric acid turns into crystals and could settle into a cool spot like the foot and ankle.
Other theories center on sleep disorders that cause less oxygen in the blood, such as sleep apnea.
Three Signs Your Ankle Pain May Be Gout
Gout which affects the ankle joint can often begin in the big toe and spread to other areas like your ankle, though this isnt always the case.
Distinguishing ankle pain from gout can be difficult, but paying close attention to the appearance and type of pain youre experiencing is generally a good way to determine whether youre suffering from gout in your ankle.
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How Is Gout Diagnosed
In a clear-cut case, a primary care physician can make the diagnosis of gout with a high level of confidence. However, often there are two or more possible causes for an inflamed toe or other joint, which mimics some of the symptoms of gout, so tests to identify the presence of uric acid is performed.
Since the treatment for gout is lifelong, its very important to make a definitive diagnosis. Ideally, the diagnosis is made by identifying uric acid crystals in joint fluid or in a mass of uric acid . These can be seen by putting a drop of fluid on a slide and examining it using a polarizing microscope, which takes advantage of the way uric acid crystals bend light. A non-rheumatologist, when possible, can remove fluid from the joint by aspirating it with a small needle and send it to a lab for analysis. A rheumatologist is likely to have a polarizing attachment on their microscope at their office. Gout crystals have a needle-like shape, and are either yellow or blue, depending on how they are arranged on the slide .
Figure 11: Uric Acid Crystals Under Polarizing Light Microscopy
There are many circumstances where, however ideal it would be, no fluid or other specimen is available to examine, but a diagnosis of gout needs to be made. A set of criteria has been established to help make the diagnosis of gout in this setting .2
Table 1: Diagnosing gout when no crystal identification is possible
Ideally, 6 of 10 features will be present of the following:
What Are The Symptoms Of Gout
An episode of gout is called a gout attack. Gout attacks are very painful and can happen quite suddenly, often overnight. During a gout attack, symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Intense pain.
- Tenderness, even to light touch, such as from a bedsheet.
- Warmth, or a feeling like the joint is on fire.
- How long does a gout attack last?
A gout attack can last a week or two. Between gout attacks, you may have no symptoms at all.
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Pain And Swelling Are Gouts Calling Cards
The most frequent signs of a gout attack are swelling, tenderness, redness, and a sharp pain in your big toe. These attacks are most common at night when you are sitting still and laying flat on your back. While gout usually manifests in the big toe, you may also experience gout attacks in your foot, ankle, or knees. The attacks can be short or long, anywhere from a few days to weeks and you may not have another attack may for months or years.
Treating And Preventing Gout Pain
Gout pain is generally treated in two ways:
- Medications to relieve gout attacks in the short-term
- Preventive medications taken regularly to lower uric acid and stop gout attacks from occurring
While inflammation-fighting drugs are used to relieve pain during gout flares, different medicines are used to lower uric acid levels to prevent future attacks. These include:
Another medication called pegloticase may be recommended for people with chronic gout who have not responded to other uric acid-lowering medication.
While many people with gout can be treated by their primary care physician, if gout is not responding to medication or is progressing with worsening or frequent flares or developing tophi gout deposits, then your primary care physician may refer you to see a rheumatologist who specializes in treating diseases that affect joints, muscles, bones and the immune system.
Taking medication to reduce uric acid levels and reduce the risk of gout progression is important, Dr. FitzGerald stresses. If you have risk factors for bad gout, such as kidney disease, or are experiencing frequent attacks, early treatment is better.
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