Gout is a prevalent kind of arthritis that causes sudden, severe pain, inflammation, redness, and stiffness in a joint. The big toe joint is a very common site affected by gout. It also affects some other joints of the body, such as the elbows, ankles, wrists, fingers, and knees.
Big toe gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. It is the most prevalent form of inflammatory arthritis in men and women are equally vulnerable to it after menopause.
An attack caused by gout in the big toe is usually sudden and can wake you in the middle of the night with a burning sensation as if ‘on fire’.
The signs and symptoms of gout can occur at any time of the day. The symptoms include:
• Restriction of mobility:When your big toe gout progresses, you may not be able to move the big toe joint through its normal excursion.
• Severe joint pain: You tend to experience intense pain in the large joint of your big toe for hours if not days after it begins.
• Redness and Swelling: Your big toe joint becomes inflamed, tender, red, and warm.
• Persistent discomfort: At the time when the severe pain reduces, you experience some lingering discomfort that may last from a few days to a few weeks.
Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in your blood from the breakdown of purines. Other causes of gout include chronic kidney disease and long term medication that can affect the proper functioning of the kidney in removing uric acid from your body.
There are various risk factors associated with cases of gout. They are:
Genetics: If you have a family history of gout, you may have a higher prevalence of developing the condition.
Alcohol consumption/Diet: A person that drinks alcohol regularly has a high risk of developing gout as the alcohol interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body. Also, consuming food that is high in purine causes an increase in the quantity of uric acid in the body.
Obesity: If you are overweight you may have a higher risk of developing gout as an increase in body tissue brings about an increase in the production of uric acid as a metabolic waste product in the body.
Age and Gender: Men have a higher tendency to develop gout because they produce more uric acid than women. However, when women reach menopause, their uric acid levels also increase like those of men.
Exposure to Lead: Some cases of gout has been associated with chronic lead exposure.
Medications: Some long term medications can increase the amount of uric acid in the body. Examples are diuretics and drugs which contain salicylate.
The diagnosis of gout is usually simple and straightforward once you know the symptoms of the condition. The doctor may take blood tests to measure the uric acid levels in your blood, hence, confirming the diagnosis of gout. Also, imaging tests such as ultrasound and CT scans are used for spotting joint damage in the big toe, the uric acid crystals in the joint and early symptoms.
Remedies for gout has proven to be successful after a wide range of research. There are two major parts to treating gout. They include :- 1) treating the acute gout attack and 2) treatment for prevention of future attacks.
Treating acute gout attack: This treatment only helps to manage your symptoms in the event of an attack. The common drugs used for treating gout attacks are:
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs help to reduce pain and inflammation. Examples are ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen. However, NSAIDs may not be suitable for everyone. There re other alternative options that work like NSAIDs.
• Colchicine: This is another drug you can take in place of NSAIDs. It is also effective in reducing the inflammation caused by uric acid crystals. If you have chronic kidney disease, avoid taking colchicine as it causes diarrhea or stomach pain.
• Steroids: These are drugs you can take if you are at risk of side effects of NSAIDs and colchicine.
For managing a gout attack at home, you can adopt the PRICE therapy.
• Rest – Rest the affected joint, that is, the big toe joint
• Ice-Make sure to ice the joint area immediately after sustaining the attack to reduce the swelling. Apply cold packs for about 20 minutes at a time, and do this several times a day.
• Compression – Wrap the area of the joint with a compression bandage to prevent further swelling.
• Elevation – Raise the joint area and support with a soft object like a pillow.
A variety of drugs has been introduced to lower uric acid levels, prevent new crystals from building up, and dissolve away those crystals in your big toe joints. These drugs are known as urate-lowering therapies or ULTs. Immediately after an attack of gout, this treatment can start. Examples of ULTs are allopurinol, febuxostat, and uricosuric drugs.
To prevent gout or reduce the risk at which you can develop gout, here are the lifestyle prevention measures you need to adopt.
• Reduce or avoid your alcohol intake
• Drink lots of water !!
• Get your protein source from low-fat dairy products
• Reduce your fish, meat and poultry consumption
• Maintain a healthy body weight