Gout and your Big Toe
Gout – first diagnosed in Ancient Egypt in 2600 BC, isn’t new. But more and more patients are receiving this diagnosis.
What is Gout?
Gout is a metabolic disorder which causes arthritis (arth = joint and itis = inflammation), usually of the big toe but other joints can be affected.
The body stops processing uric acid properly causing it to build up in the body. These sharp uric acid crystal deposits are particularly common in joints.
You will have had hyperuricaemia for some time before the crystal deposits become large enough to cause an acute attack – a sudden onset of pain, usually in one joint which will often wake you up.
Other symptoms include tophi, deposits of uric acid that cause lumps under the skin, and kidney stones.
Why is the big toe important?
Nearly 80% of patients experience pain in their big toe in their first attack of gout.
There are a number of reasons for this but one of the most interesting is a recent study that showed 41% of gout sufferers have hallux valgus or bunions. Another condition that affects the big toe.
Many gout sufferers have had pain in their big toe for at least a month and possibly a year before suffering their first attack. They also have a slower walking pace, take shorter steps and have high pressure in their forefoot.
Which came first?
Damaged cartilage is more attractive to uric acid crystals. So if your big toe joint is already under a huge amount of stress and damaged due to a poor walking pattern, it becomes a target.
More than medication
Gout needs a two pronged approach.
Medication, diet and hydration are critical to reduce the metabolic factors that cause the crystal build up.
But treating the joints affected during the attacks is just as important:
- strengthen the cartilage
- reduce the damage at the joint
- correct the pressure in the foot and reduce the pressure on the big toe
- reduce the inflammation in the joints
And the pain and severity of your attacks of gout will be reduced.