Do you feel unexplained, intense pain in your big toe? Does even the weight of your sheets against your toe cause pain? If so, you may be one of the 8 million Americans who suffer from gout. While this form of arthritis often seems to come and go at random, here at Podiatry Hotline, we understand the root causes of gout and can help you prevent future flare-ups.
Arthritis often impacts us as we age, and gout is no different. The condition typically develops in men between the ages of 30-50 and in postmenopausal women. While gout is a form of arthritis, it’s aggravated when the level of uric acid in your blood rises above normal levels and the acid starts to crystalize in your joint. These acid crystals bring severe pain, inflammation, and a decrease in your range of motion.
Gout can impact just about any joint in your body, but it seems to affect the big toe joint most often. In many cases of gout flare-ups, the toe gets so sore and sensitive that shoes — and even socks — get hard to wear. Many of our Mission Viejo, California patients tell us that even the pressure of their sheets and blankets is enough to cause sharp pain.
While you can’t necessarily eliminate gout from your life, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of uric acid in your blood and, therefore, decrease your risk for gout pain and inflammation. To help you overcome this painful condition, we’ve gathered our five top tips for preventing gout flare-ups, all of which you can try from home.
Limiting alcohol in general can lower the amount of uric acid in your bloodstream, but when you really want to drop the level, considering giving up beer. Between the alcohol and the yeast, beer is one of the major contributors to gout flare-ups.
Certain foods can also make gout flare-ups more likely. Red meats, sardines, mussels, and bacon all increase your uric acid levels and can spur crystallization in your joints. And when you pair a bacon cheeseburger with a cold glass of beer, you’re almost guaranteeing joint pain and gout flare-up.
Instead of opting for meats and yeasty carbs when you’re hungry, consider eating bananas, cherries, and celery. Bananas are rich in vitamin K, which liquifies uric acid crystals and flushes them from your body. As part of their antioxidant makeup, cherries contain a pigment called anthocyanin that reduces gout pain and inflammation. Celery works to lower uric acid levels, as well as alleviate pain and swelling.
When you’re dehydrated, your body struggles to eliminate the uric acid crystals that form in your joints. Avoid dehydration and gout flare-ups by striving to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. To get maximum gout prevention, try some nettle leaf tea. Its anti-inflammatory properties work especially well on arthritis-related pain and inflammation.
Like osteoarthritis (the most common form of the joint disorders), gout may respond well to getting up and moving. Engaging in gentle, yet routine exercise helps to keep your joints functioning well and flushes uric acid crystallization from them. Exercise, along with a healthy diet, can also help you lose weight, which reduces your risk of gout flare-ups. Although exercise is important, it’s necessary to remember that your joints are arthritic; keep your routine gentle and don’t go overboard.