Your feet are the foundation of your body, literally! They don’t just help you move; they get you to family events, concerts and plays, sporting activities and more. They’re even essential to the simple act of standing. Unfortunately, some conditions can affect your feet, causing pain and limiting mobility as you age. One common condition affecting feet is gout.
Gout is an inflammatory condition that affects joints in the feet. Joints are places in the body where two bones meet and allow movement. Gout often affects the big toe joint but can also affect other joints in the feet. Because it causes pain when the joint moves, gout can make it challenging to move around, walk and stay active.
Gout happens because of hyperuricemia, a condition in which the uric acid from your body and your diet build up. Too much uric acid can form crystals in your joints, tissues and bodily fluids. Those crystals can cause pain, swelling and heat in your affected joints. Unfortunately, when too many of these crystals are in your foot joints, your gout will flare up.
Because gout flares up, it also goes into remission – periods when there is no pain. After multiple flare-ups, your gout can turn into gouty arthritis, which is more persistent. Gouty arthritis can spread and affect multiple joints simultaneously, making movement difficult. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage and treat gout that make life more pain-free. The first strategy is knowing what triggers gout.
5 Triggers That Can Make Your Gout Flare Up
- Gaining or being overweight. Being overweight or gaining weight can affect how your kidneys function. When your kidneys stop working their best, your body has more difficulty removing excess uric acid. That means being overweight increases your odds of a gout flare-up.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause gout flare-ups because drinking leads to increased uric acids. Alcohol also affects your liver and kidneys, making it difficult for your body to remove excess uric acids through urination.
- Eating foods high in purines. Some foods are high in purines, which increase uric acid in the body. These foods include red meat like beef, lamb, pork, organ meats and gravy.
- Eating sugary processed foods. Although sugary foods do not always have high purines, they contribute to weight gain and poor overall health, increasing the odds of a flare-up. High fructose corn syrup, sugary sodas, fruit juices and other sweets should be avoided.
- Taking certain medications. Some medications are known to cause hyperuricemia, which causes gout. Talk with your doctor about your medications, and consider changing medications that cause hyperuricemia.
4 Gout Treatment Tips to Live a Pain-free Life
Fortunately, you can manage and treat gout with help from expert rheumatologists and podiatrists. Once your gout is diagnosed by X-rays and lab tests, you can use the following tips to manage your pain and prevent flare-ups.
- Eat a balanced diet. Avoid the foods listed above and opt for more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, whole grains, fresh fruits and lean protein sources like nuts, legumes and chicken.
- Lose weight. Losing weight can help your body perform at its best. Talk to your doctor about the healthiest, safest way to lose weight.
- Exercise regularly. In addition to eating right and losing weight, it’s crucial to exercise regularly. Regular physical activity helps your kidneys and liver function properly, ensuring your body can remove excess uric acid. Please note: If you are in a flare-up, it’s essential to rest. Only participate in activities your doctor recommends during flare-ups to avoid worsening your condition.
- Take anti-inflammatories. If you’re experiencing a flare-up, NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help reduce your pain by decreasing inflammation in the affected joint.
If you suspect you have gout, schedule an appointment with the experts in Dr. Fedorchak’s office today. Our expert podiatrist uses top-of-the-line diagnostic tools and treatments to help you live your healthiest, pain-free life.