Could Gout be the Cause of Your Joint Pain?
By: Dr. Ryan Kiehart
Pain in the foot tends to be extremely annoying, especially if your lifestyle requires a lot of walking. One common cause of foot pain that is often overlooked is a condition known as Gout. Gout is a build-up of Uric Acid crystals in the body. These crystals deposit in joints and create a situation in which the Uric Acid crystals act like little razor blades. So any movement will cause extreme inflammation and pain. Because the crystals favor a cooler environment, they tend to migrate distally in the body and usually deposit in the feet, more specifically the big toe. Because this form of gout is so common it is usually labeled separately as “podagra”. Classically gout presents in middle-aged men and is marked by a very painful swelling of the big toe. So painful, that even rubbing your foot on the sheets when getting into bed will cause unbearable pain.
Although the big toe is the most commonplace for gout it is definitely not limited to the big toe. Gout is a systemic condition that could potentially affect any joint in the body. I have personally seen cases where gout affected the top of the patient’s foot. I have also seen cases where gout affects the knees and hands.
Common Gout Sites
So what causes Gout? Well, we already established that Gout is caused by a buildup of Uric Acid crystals in the body. Usually, our body eliminates it naturally, however, in excess the body will not be able to keep up and the Uric Acid will build up. Uric acid is a byproduct of our body’s metabolism. The breakdown of something known as purines, causes our bodies to make Uric Acid. Purines are components of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). So any animal products we eat will cause an increase in purines. Elimination of all protein, especially meat during times of a Gout attack would help.
Even legumes, for example, peanuts, should be avoided during times of an attack because of their high purine content. Alcohol is a very bad choice, especially beer or wine which are very high in purines. Besides the facts that alcohol will also tax the kidneys and liver and slow down the body’s filtration of uric acid. Another major thing to avoid is fried food or chicken skin. So chicken wings are out of the question. Fried food and chicken skin are high in a substance known as arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation in the body.
Foods to Avoid and Include
Medically this condition is treated with a drug known as Allopurinol. The purpose of this drug is to stop the conversion of purines into Uric Acid by blocking a catalyst known as Xanthine Oxidase.
Another remedy that works in a similar fashion and can be picked up at the grocery store is Cherry juice. Either fresh Tart Cherries or Tart Cherry juice are proven to lower uric acid build-up. I suggest if you do choose to get Tart Cherries in a juice form that you try to find 100% natural juice.
The cocktail form usually contains more sugar than juice. Try to increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oils, which are a natural anti-inflammatory. Obviously, avoid any meat or alcohol during the time of an attack. Consult with your doctor if you feel you have this condition, a simple blood test will confirm it and you will be on the road to recovery.