You wake up in the middle of the night because your big toe hurts. The next morning, the pain gets worse, and it continues to worsen for a week or more.
Although you may be tempted to minimize the attack — after all, it’s just a big toe — pain in the big toe or another single joint is a prime indication that you have a form of arthritis called gout. Gout is caused by a buildup of uric crystals that have accumulated in your joint, which causes inflammation that can destroy your big toe joint. The uric crystals may even spread to your urinary tract, where they form painful kidney stones.
If you think you have gout, Dr. Pastorek, founder of the Pure Medicine clinic, test your joint for the presence of uric crystals. After he confirms the diagnosis, your doctor will custom design a gout treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms and minimize your risk for a repeat attack.
Whether you have gout or not, lowering your risk for this painful and debilitating condition improves your overall health, too. Drs. Mijares and Pastorek recommend the following steps:
Protein-rich foods, such as red meat and seafood, are also high in an organic compound called purine. While digesting purine, your body produces uric acid. Normally, your body gets rid of uric acid through urination, but if you eat a lot of high-purine foods, your body can’t handle the excess.
Rather than being eliminated, the uric acid creates crystals that accumulate in your joints. The sharp crystals irritate surrounding tissue and cause a gout attack.
Your Pure Medicine experts advise limiting your consumption of red meats, organ meats, and shellfish. Even poultry could trigger an attack. Eating low-fat dairy can help prevent gout and is a good source of dietary protein.
More than two alcoholic drinks per day (for men), or one daily alcoholic drink (for women), and sugary sodas and other beverages may aggravate gout. Switch to water instead. Water keeps your organs hydrated and may aid with flushing uric acid from your system.
Exercise revs up your metabolism and increases your overall health. Aim for 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular activities.
Switch it up by running one day and walking, swimming, or biking another. Dance classes, ice skating, and sports are all fun ways to get the exercise you need, but be sure to get an all-clear from your Pure Medicine expert.
Obesity is one of the risk factors for gout because the extra pounds cause your body to produce more uric acid. Excess weight also stresses your joints, which can complicate gout and other forms of arthritis. If you have trouble achieving or maintaining a stable, healthy weight, your Pure Medicine doctors help with medically supervised weight loss.
Your risk of developing gout or having recurrent gout attacks increases if you have other health conditions, including diabetes, untreated high blood pressure, and heart or kidney disease. Getting a physical examination at Pure Medicine helps you take control of your health and receive the treatments you need. If you’ve had gout or are at risk for gout, also talk to your Pure Medicine expert about adjusting your medications, as some drugs can trigger a gout attack.
Whether you have gout or believe you may be at risk, developing a healthy lifestyle is key to controlling and preventing attacks. Contact your friendly Pure Medicine team for a physical exam or gout consultation. Call us at our Frisco, Texas, office, or use the online appointment form.