The big toe on my left foot began to ache and my shoe felt a little tight on my foot. Not a big deal, I thought, my sock must be twisted or foot swollen a little from being on my feet all day. All would be well as soon as I finished my work and could sit down and remove my shoe. All was not well. By the time I removed my shoe and sock, my big toe was red, swollen and hot to the touch. Once free from the confines of the shoe, the toe became larger and more painful. Although my foot was cold, I couldn’t bear a sock or cover to touch it. After an agonizing night, a trip to my family doctor revealed I had gout.
I made an appointment with my doctor the following morning and hobbled into his office wearing my house shoes. My big toe was so inflamed and painful there was no way I could get on a pair of normal shoes. My doctor did a visual inspection (being careful not to touch my big toe) and diagnosed me as having gout, a form of arthritis that typically and inexplicably attacks the joint in the big toe. I did have an in-office blood test done to rule out the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or several other possible ailments.
Cause of Gout
Gout was originally called ”The Rich Man’s Disease” because only the wealthy who could afford the luxury of eating meat on a regular basis suffered with painful, enlarged big toes. We now know that gout is caused from a by-product of protein called uric acid and afflicts all economic classes.
My doctor explained my gout was caused by having too much uric acid in my blood stream, which hardened into sharp crystals and settled in the joint of my big toe. He went on further to explain that uric acid is the waste-product of protein that the body can’t use and which is normally expelled from the body through the urine. When a diet consists of a lot of protein (like mine did) the body can’t eliminate the excess uric acid quickly enough so it enters the blood stream and heads for big-toe-ville.
My Treatment Plan
My doctor-recommended treatment plan worked successfully to get me over the initial gout flare-up and has thus far prevented any further serious flare-ups. Prescription pain medication and a change in diet got me over the first week-long flare-up. I eat less meat and plant proteins and I added four ounces of pure cherry juice to my daily diet.
Once the pain and swelling subsided, I stopped drinking the cherry juice (it’s expensive and high in calories), but I keep a jar handy for times when I feel that familiar twinge in my big toe. I drink a little cherry juice and cut out all protein for a couple of days and have thus far avoided another flare-up as painful as the initial one.
My big toe and foot joint connected to it are not the same as before having gout. I’m unable to wear most of the shoes which I wore in my pre-gout days, but the good news is I bought several pairs of new shoes, just in a larger size.