Gout is a type of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid in your joints. It often occurs in your big toe, or suddenly begins in one joint. If left untreated, it can cause irreversible joint damage and kidney problems.
Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found naturally in your body and in the foods you eat. Some foods and beverages that contain purines include steak, seafood, and alcoholic drinks that have fructose.
If your body has difficulty processing the uric acid, it can crystallize and build up in your joints or cause kidney stones. Heredity plays a role, too. If your parents have or had gout, you have a 20% chance of developing the condition as well.
Gout is often characterized by the sudden and rapid onset of intense pain in a single joint, typically a big toe. Warmth, swelling, and tenderness can accompany the pain. Knees, ankles, wrists, and finger and elbow joints are also susceptible to a gout attack. For some men and women, the pain is so acute that even the slightest touch to the affected area causes unbearable pain.
Gout symptoms usually subside in a few hours or a few days, and some people have repeated occurrences of gout over the course of adulthood. Dr. Graham examines the affected joint and determines the best way to treat your symptoms. Medication is often an effective treatment option.
There are several risk factors that may help determine if you have gout as an adult. Some of them include:
When left untreated, gout can cause deposits of urate crystals to form under your skin around the affected joint. These crystals are called tophi and can develop in your hands, feet, and Achilles tendons along the back of your ankles. Tophi may become swollen or tender during a gout attack.
If you have any stage of gout, it’s a good idea to have Dr. Graham examine your swollen joints, especially surrounding your feet or Achilles tendons, so he can recommend treatment options before the damage is irreparable. Call or go online to schedule an appointment today.
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