Steps to Take When Your Gout Flares

Glasses of BeerSt. Patrick’s Day celebrations are over, but the aftereffects of indulging in your favorite green beverage may just now be hitting you—with a gout attack. Beer flows freely on this mischievous holiday, and it is one of the worst triggers for this painful form of arthritis. If an attack hits your big toe, taking steps is the last thing you want to do, but here are a few that might make you feel better:

  • Make sure it is gout. We can do a simple test to diagnose the condition and rule out other possible causes for your toe pain.

  • Ask us about medications that may help. We may advise NSAIDs for pain, or possibly steroids. There are drugs like colchicine to keep the crystals from entering your joints, or others that help your body process and eliminate purines more effectively.

  • Rest your foot. Sit with your leg elevated or—better yet—lie in bed and prop it up on a pillow. You’ll want to keep it uncovered, as any pressure can increase your discomfort.

  • Ice the sore area. Fill a zip-tight bag with ice and water and wrap it in a thin cloth. Nestle it around your toe or other joint for a few minutes every hour to chill away the pain.

  • Watch what you put in your mouth. Lots of water is good, as it flushes out the uric acid crystals that are causing havoc in your joints. Food high in purines (red meat, shellfish, certain veggies and legumes, beer, high fructose syrup) should be avoided during an attack—and at other times as a preventative measure.

You should always seek medical treatment for this condition that causes your big toe to become swollen, red, hot, and painful. Call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Wheat Ridge, CO, at (303) 423-2520 and make an appointment right away. Treatment within 36 hours can greatly reduce the length of the attack.

Once we’ve diagnosed the problem and outlined your treatment, the main thing is to be patient. Yes, it is hard to put your life on hold for a painful big toe (or other joint), but a few days rest in bed following our instructions will usually allow the gout attack to subside. If you are careful, you may not have another one for years—or ever. That would be something to celebrate!

Photo credit: lusi via

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