What is Gout? Holiday Season Can Trigger Foot Pain

Courtesy Matthew F. Wachtler, DPM

 Got gout? If so, Dr. Wachtler, a Cedar Grove foot and ankle surgeon has a recommendation for surviving the holidays: Watch what you eat and drink.

Changes in diet, including overindulging in certain foods and beverages, can cause gout attacks this time of year, says Dr. Matthew F. Wachtler, DPM, FACFAS.

Gout attacks can be difficult to diagnose, often mistaken for a sprain, arthritis or other ailments.  Gout attacks are extremely painful, often red, hot and swollen. If left untreated, they can last for months and cause significant joint damage.  They are caused when uric acid accumulates in the tissues or a joint and crystallizes. This most commonly occurs in the big toe joint. Foods that are high in purines contribute to uric acid build-up.  People prone to gout attacks should avoid purine-rich items such as shellfish (shrimp, crab, etc.), organ meats (kidney, liver, etc.), red meat, red wine and beer.

Gout can be treated with medications, diet changes, increasing consumption of appropriate fluids, and immobilizing the foot. In some cases injections may be required as well as surgery to remove the uric acid crystals and even repair the joint.

Gout is a form of arthritis that develops when high levels of uric acid in your body form crystal deposits in your joints. 

Gout can develop in any joint. However, your big toe is the most common location. Gout causes symptoms including intense pain, swelling, redness, and warmth.

There are several stages of gout. The first stage is asymptomatic, which is when you have elevated levels of uric acid in your blood. 

As the disease progresses, you can develop acute gout, in which you experience attacks that are usually triggered by heavy drinking or eating a very rich meal.

Eventually, you can develop interval gout, where you have intermittent attacks. While you may not experience symptoms all the time, your joint is continuously inflamed, which can cause other complications.

The final stage of the disease is chronic gout. It becomes chronic when you’ve had several years of elevated uric acid levels. Your attacks will then become more frequent, and the pain may not go away completely between flare-ups.

What causes gout?

Gout develops when uric acid crystals accumulate in your joints. Your body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found in red meat, organ meat, and seafood. Alcohol and high sugar drinks also trigger uric acid production.

You can have an increased risk of getting gout if you have a family history of the disease. Furthermore, if you’re overweight and eat a diet that includes a lot of red meat and alcohol, your chances of developing gout are higher.

How is gout treated?

At, Cedar Grove Foot & Ankle Specialists, Dr. Wachtler offers effective in-office treatments for gout. He may prescribe medications to relieve gout pain and reduce your uric acid production.

He also helps you to change your diet and modify your lifestyle to reduce your risk of having gout attacks. Limiting your intake of red meat, sugar, and alcohol can often reduce your risk.

If you’re concerned about gout, call or book an appointment online with Cedar Grove Foot & Ankle Specialists today.

Cedar Grove Foot & Ankle Specialists

886 Pompton Ave
Suite A-1
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009


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