Gout attacks appear out of nowhere, causing intense pain and swelling in a joint — usually the joint in your big toe. After an initial attack, your symptoms will improve, but it’s still important to have the joint examined by Deep Dalal, MD, FACR, RhMSUS, at BW Arthritis & Rheumatology, PA. If you don’t get treatment, chances are your gout will flare up again, continue to worsen, and potentially damage the joint. To receive excellent gout treatment, call the office in Glen Burnie, Maryland, or schedule an appointment online.
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. You can develop gout in any joint, but uric acid most often accumulates in parts of your body that are slightly colder compared to your core temperature.
The most common site is the joint at the base of your big toe. Gout also frequently develops in the midfoot, ankle, knee, and elbow joints.
Uric acid is naturally produced in your body when it metabolizes substances called purines. When you eat purine-containing foods, uric acid can end up as a waste product in your body as the purines are digested and metabolized.
Excess uric acid is usually eliminated in your urine. However, if you produce too much uric acid, or too much uric acid waste stays in your body, it accumulates in your bloodstream. When blood levels are high, uric acid ends up settling in a joint.
Some factors are hereditary, but others can be controlled. The following factors can increase your risk for gout:
If gout runs in your family, you may also inherit a genetic tendency to develop the condition.
Gout appears suddenly, and most often at night while you sleep. The affected joint becomes red, swollen, and extremely painful. While your acute symptoms get better in about 10 days, you may continue to have joint discomfort for weeks.
It’s common to develop recurrent gout attacks. If you don’t get treatment, your flare-ups will become more frequent and severe.
The condition also worsens as uric acid crystals become permanently implanted in the joint. Over time, these uric acid deposits, called tophi, cause joint damage.
Dr. Dalal may recommend limiting high-purine foods and drinking plenty of water to help flush out excess uric acid. The primary treatment for gout, however, includes different medications.
Some medications treat an acute flare-up by reducing the pain, inflammation, and swelling. Dr. Dalal may also prescribe one of several medications that prevent future gout attacks by lowering uric acid production or increasing the amount eliminated from your body.
If you develop sudden pain and swelling in a joint, call BW Arthritis & Rheumatology or schedule an appointment online.