Can Gout Affect More Than Your Big Toe?

Nov 01, 2023
Can Gout Affect More Than Your Big Toe?
Gout is a type of arthritis with sharp uric acid crystals collected inside your joints, causing painful symptoms. While the big toe is often involved, gout can cause other problems.

Nearly 10 million Americans suffer from gout, a painful condition when uric acid crystals build up in one or more joints, causing inflammation, pain, and swelling. More common among older people and people with diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, gout isn’t curable but can be effectively managed.

While the big toe joint is a common location for gout symptoms in many people, it’s not the only place where gout can occur. At Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC, Joel S Segalman, FACFAS, FACFAO, and Stephen Lazaroff, DPM, FACFAS, offer the most advanced treatment options for gout, helping patients in Waterbury and Newtown, Connecticut, find relief for painful symptoms.

Gout 101

Uric acid crystals form when we eat foods high in substances called purines, which includes red meat, alcohol, sugary foods, and some seafood. Purines get converted into uric acid during digestion, and while most uric acid gets excreted through urine and stool, sometimes, it builds up and forms sharp crystals that lodge in your joints.

Gout often affects a single joint, frequently the big toe joint. However, it can affect other joints and occur in multiple joints, which can get confused with osteoarthritis (or “wear-and-tear” arthritis). Many people have joint swelling and redness in addition to pain and stiffness.

Unlike osteoarthritis, gout symptoms tend to happen in cycles, flaring up and then calming down over time. For some people, it can be months before another flare-up occurs, while others can experience symptoms more or less frequently.

Uric acid crystals can also build up in soft tissues, causing lumps called tophi. High levels of uric acid also increase your risk of kidney stone formation.

Treating gout

If you’re prone to gout, you can benefit from a special diet that limits foods high in purines. Some medicines, like certain diuretics, can also increase your risk of gout. If you take these medicines, your doctor might advise switching to another type of drug to help keep gout at bay.

Treatment typically focuses on preventing flare-ups or lengthening the time between them. Our team often recommends a combination of treatments, which may include: 

  • Diet management
  • Weight loss
  • Regular exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Oral medications
  • Joint injections

Some medications can help manage pain and reduce inflammation, while others focus on limiting your body’s production of uric acid to help decrease crystal formation. 

If you have gout or symptoms of joint pain, a medical evaluation is essential so treatment can begin as soon as possible. To learn what’s causing your symptoms and how we can help, request an appointment online or call the Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists team today.