Understanding Gout

Crystals are found everywhere in nature – think snowflakes and diamonds. When crystals form in the human body, however, it can mean trouble. At Montgomery Foot Care Specialists, we’re often challenged to treat patients with crystals that have settled into their big toe joint. These patients have a condition called gout.

Why do crystals form in the big toe?

To understand where these crystals come from, we need to talk about uric acid. Everybody has this waste product running through his or her bloodstreams. Normally, our kidneys do an excellent job of ridding the body of uric acid. But if you’ve got kidney disease, you’re not drinking enough water, you’re eating too many rich foods, or if gout simply runs in your family, uric acid can build up in your system. When there’s too much uric acid, it tends to crystallize and settle into a joint – very often at the base of the big toe.

Symptoms of gout include:

  • sudden pain, throbbing, and redness in the big toe
  • a feeling of warmth in the big toe
  • tenderness and stiffness in the big toe

If you noticed that these symptoms echo the general symptoms of arthritis, you’ve made a keen observation. Gout is a form of arthritis, sometimes called “gouty arthritis.”

How our podiatrists treat gout:

Our two qualified podiatrists, Dr. Heidi M. Christie and Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts may diagnose gout through observation of your toe, blood tests confirming a high level of uric acid or testing the joint for the presence of uric acid crystals. You can find quick relief from the awful pain of gout by taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. Dr. Christie and Dr. Day-Houts can follow up with prescription medications that directly reduce the concentration of uric acid in your system.

Why it’s important to seek treatment

Gout will run its course and eventually disappear, but it may take several days of intense pain. We recommend that you contact us in Montgomery County, Alabama if you experience a gout attack. If left untreated, gout is more likely to return. It can also cause permanent joint damage. For help with the pain and recurrence of gout, call our Montgomery office at (334) 396-3668 or make an appointment online.