Gout is an arthritic condition in which uric acid crystals are deposited into a joint, causing the joint to become red, swollen and very painful to even the slightest touch. The most common place that gout occurs is the big toe joint, but it may occur in other parts of the middle foot or ankle.
Gout occurs when there are higher than normal levels of uric acid, the by-product of protein breakdown, in the bloodstream. It can also be caused by stress or decreased kidney function. Therefore, it is very important for a patient to have medical attention and follow up.
Gout can cause damage to the cartilage in the joint, resulting in long-term pain and stiffness. In the big toe, gout can also cause enlargement around the joint which leads to decreased joint range of motion, limping and an inability to wear shoes or participate in activities. This enlargement can also serve as a source of nerve pain when it presses on shoes and irritates the nerve. In some cases, if left untreated, this can lead to ulcerations and limb compromise.
The acute process of gout is treated with a variety of medications, and at times a long-term medication is needed to decrease the recurrence of gout attacks. A visit to your podiatrist is recommended for a thorough examination, appropriate imaging studies and treatment.