Gout is a painful condition that is often first observed in the joint of the big toe. Podiatry can be an invaluable tool if you suffer from gout, to help diagnose the condition and manage symptoms.
The intense pain felt by gout sufferers unfortunately can be similar to some other common disorders including osteoarthritis as well as genuine injuries to the toe joint. One of the important roles that podiatrists play is to accurately diagnose if the pain is due to a gout outbreak, so that an appropriate treatment regime can be developed. Podiatrists can diagnose the gout by taking a full medical history, examining the joint for swelling and taking other tests such as serum uric acid level.
One of the most immediate tasks of the podiatrist is to prescribe pain relief, which usually involved NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or volatren. Additional medications such steroids can also be used, but the use of these need to be evaluated alongside any other medication the patient is using and health issues that the patient is suffering from.
Podiatrists can also help to create a more comfortable environment for the patient to move, such as moving them to roomier shoes and placing padding in the toe of the shoes to prevent pressure being applied to the joint. Where possible, the patient should rest up and elevate the foot to limit the amount of swelling in the foot.
Gout does not disappear, but between attacks, the patient often feels quite comfortable and is asymptomatic. However it's important during these times to make lifestyle adjustments that can help prevent or reduce the intensity of future attacks. This includes lower alcohol consumption and adjusting the diet to include a lower level of purines (from food such as meat, seafood and some fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach and asparagus). Additionally, other health issues such as obesity can complicate the effects of gout.
Left untreated gout can have a very detrimental effect on the health of the joint and often spreads over time to effect more joints. The disease can be extremely painful and many patients find it very isolating, as they are less able to participate in normal social activities while they are having a gout attacks.
If you suspect that you are suffering from gout then you visit a podiatrist. They can give you a correct diagnosis and help to devise a treatment plan to deal with immediate symptoms as well as reducing the chance of the gout recurring.