Gout is a serious condition that causes sudden, extreme pain and swelling in the joints and soft tissues of the body. It occurs when the body develops higher-than-normal levels of uric acid – a powerful antioxidant meant to break down naturally occurring purines as well as those found in protein-rich foods.
When you have excessive levels of uric acid in your blood, this is known as hyperuricemia. This leads to gout, a type of inflammatory arthritis.
Where Can Gout Occur in the Body?
Areas of the body commonly affected by gout include:
- Joints – Typically the big toe, but sometimes fingers, knees and hips are also affected.
- Bursae – Fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones beneath the skin, typically in the elbow and knee.
- Tendon sheaths – “Tunnels” that protect the tendons in the hands and feet.
- Kidneys – 15% of gout sufferers develop kidney stones.
Who Does Gout Affect?
An occurrence rate of only 2% among at-risk individuals may not seem like much, and yet it means that over 6 million residents of the United States alone currently suffer from gout. Factors that place you in the at-risk category include:
- Being a male aged 30 to 45
- Being a female aged 55 to 70
- Being overweight
- Having a family history of gout
- Having health conditions that increase uric acid – diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, etc.
- Taking certain medications – diuretics, aspirin, and organ transplant aids
- Excessively consuming alcohol
For Gout, Which Doctor Do I Need to See?
Because gout is a condition that affects areas of your musculoskeletal system, the ideal doctor that sufferers should see is an orthopedic physician. Advanced knowledge of the inner workings of the joints and soft tissues will enable your doctor to properly diagnose your condition and create a personalized treatment plan.
The primary goal of gout treatment is to relieve pain, prevent future attacks, and reduce the risk of developing tophi (chalky deposits of uric acid beneath the skin) or permanent joint damage. While acute symptoms may be treated with home remedies, medications and lifestyle changes, chronic gout may require surgery.
Whether you have been previously diagnosed with gout or are experiencing potential symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management today. Our Sarasota/Bradenton pain management and joint replacement specialists are here to help!