I woke up one morning with the little toe of my right foot hurting like heck. My entire toe was red and very sensitive to touch. I could hardly walk. Any contact of my swollen toe even with a slipper made me wince.
As a physician assistant, I know that gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. Males who are beyond 40, overweight (me) and take a diuretic for high blood pressure like I do can experience a sudden attack of gout. It’s not always the big-toe that aches, sometimes it’s a knee or a finger, or in my case, the little toe.
Treatment for gout is rest and elevation of the affected foot or knee. Taking anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) — two or three 200 mg pills four times a day with food — helps alleviate pain and reduces inflammation.
I had two very uncomfortable days. By day three, the pain was nearly gone and I was back at work. I am on alert, though, for any new symptoms of gout. Gout can become a serious condition and affect more than one joint. Removing some fluid from an affected joint is sometimes necessary to rule out infection.
Here are five steps I took to reduce the symptoms of gout and avoid future attacks:
- Take a day or two off from work, unless you enjoy misery. I took two days off because my job demands standing and walking. You’d be surprised how many times your shoes brush against your toes as you walk. The slightest touch to a gouty toe is excruciating.
- Keep your foot elevated (sometimes applying an ice-pack helps).
- Limit red meat consumption to twice a week for a while. After eating red meat, urate crystals can settle out in the first joint of your big toe, or another joint, causing symptoms of gout.
- Drink lots of water – at least six eight-ounce glasses of water during an attack of gout.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks, especially beer.
- No extra cups of coffee.