What to Do When A Gout Attack Strikes

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, the added stress and non-gout-friendly foods that are characteristic of the season can increase your chances of having a gout flare. Even if it’s been years since your last flare, you may still be at risk for the painful discomfort that a gout flare can produce. But if you know what to do when a flare occurs, you’ll be in a much better position to manage your symptoms and ease your suffering!

Why Gout Flares Happen

A gout flare occurs when a person with higher than normal levels of uric acid in the body has a buildup of uric acid around a joint – most commonly, the big toe joint. Crystals form in the joint, causing pain, tenderness, and inflammation. Some of the most common factors that can increase uric acid levels and make a gout attack more likely, include:

  • alcohol,
  • high-fat or high-purine foods,
  • stress, and
  • some medications.

Some people with gout have reported a burning, itching, or tingling feeling in a joint a few hours prior to a gout flare-up. There may also be stiffness or soreness in the big toe joint. Soon after, the telltale signs of gout appear – redness, swelling, and severe pain, usually in the big toe. Sometimes, there are no early warning signs of a gout attack. Many gout sufferers are simply woken up in the middle of the night with a painful, inflamed big toe joint.

How to Treat A Gout Flare

There are a number of ways to get relief from a painful gout attack and reduce the amount of time that a gout attack lasts, including:

  • Ditch footwear – Socks and shoes can be unbearably painful during a gout flare, so keep the foot and lower part of the leg bare to reduce added pain.
  • Rest – Avoid activity or walking around during a flare. Lie down and elevate the joint on a pillow or other soft object.
  • Try ice packs / cold compresses – To reduce inflammation and ease pain, apply an ice pack or cold compress to the joint for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day.
  • Avoid high-purine foods and alcohol – High-purine foods (e.g., some seafood, organ meats, and fatty foods) and alcoholic beverages (especially beer) can aggravate a gout attack, so avoid them completely.
  • Drink plenty of water – Drinking enough water can help flush the uric acid crystals out of your body.
  • Try OTC pain meds – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be taken to help alleviate gout pain.
  • Wait it out – Most gout attacks will go away within a few days. Sometimes a little rest and patience is all that’s needed to get relief.
  • Talk with your doctor – If you feel like your gout is not under control, be sure to talk to your healthcare professional about ways to reduce gout attacks. Your doctor may even recommend gout-specific medications to prevent future gout flares.

Are you struggling to keep your gout under control? Don’t let painful gout flares keep you awake at night. Contact us today for an appointment and let us help you get the relief you need!

Runners and Heel Pain

One of the most common physical problems that frequent runners experience is heel pain. With the repeated pounding and pressure on the structure of the foot during regular runs, it’s understandable that many runners will experience foot problems like heel pain at some point in time. When it comes to treating heel pain in runners, there are several factors that must be considered to make sure the right treatment is being used for the underlying problem.

Diagnosing Heel Pain in Runners

First, the source or the type of heel pain being experienced needs to be identified. A qualified podiatrist or foot specialist can perform a thorough physical examination and ask questions that will help target what’s causing your heel pain. During the examination, the following factors might be examined or assessed:

  • Specifics about your running and / or training habits, including how often you run, the intensity, distance and duration of your runs, the types of surfaces you run on, recent changes to your training routine, etc.
  •  Is your heel pain limited to a small area or is it more pervasive?
  •  How intense is the heel pain you experience?
  •  What methods or actions seem to relieve your heel pain?
  •  Have you been treated previously for heel pain?
  •  What kind of footwear do you use when running?
  •  When do you experience heel pain? During a run, after a run, or at any time of day?

While plantar fasciitis is the most common cause for runners’ heel pain, there may be other, less obvious factors contributing to your heel pain, such as Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures and bursitis, or systemic illnesses like gout and rheumatoid arthritis. A complete physical exam will include a review of muscular, neurological and, biomechanical factors to identify where the source of your heel pain is originating from. Once your podiatrist has a complete picture of your running habits and pain profile, providing an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan will be much easier.

Treating Heel Pain in Runners

Developing an effective treatment plan for heel pain involves a two-pronged approach – managing the symptoms of the pain while also addressing the cause of the pain. Most heel pain treatment protocols will involve one or more of the following approaches:

  • Rest – Your doctor may recommend taking a break from running and / or switching to other physical activities that put less stress on the heel
  • Pain medications – Medications can include OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), prescription pain medications, cortisone or steroid injections depending on the severity of the pain
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy, including cross-training and stretching exercises, may be recommended to ease pain and help correct biomechanical issues
  • Orthotics – Pre-made or custom orthotic inserts can help relieve heel pain caused by structural issues with the foot
  • Footwear – Shoes that provide additional support or cushion to the heel when running may also be recommended

Are you an avid runner struggling with occasional or recurring heel pain? Don’t suffer through it! Make an appointment with us today for a thorough assessment and customized treatment plan for your heel pain.