Television has made the image of a man carrying a flask of green liquid a common site. The liquid is supposed to be uric acid which when it reaches too high a concentration in the blood can cause gout. Gout is a type of arthritis caused when crystals of uric acid accumulate in the joints. Severe pain and swelling are associated with this process.
Causes of Gout:
Gout is caused by the buildup of too much uric acid in the body. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. But uric acid can build up in the blood when either the body increases the amount of uric acid it makes or the kidneys do not get rid of enough uric acid. It is also caused by eating too many foods high in purines. Purines are found in all of your body’s tissues. They are also in many foods, such as red meats, dried beans and peas, shellfish and anchovies. When uric acid levels in the blood are high, it is called hyperuricemia which can lead to gout.
Gout attacks occur suddenly. The big toe is the most common joint affected but there can be pain in the ankles, knees, hands and wrists. The involved joint becomes red, hot and swollen and is very painful. If left untreated the attacks occur more and more frequently and eventually permanent damage and deformities can occur in the involved joints. Acute gout usually wakes a person from sleep. Even a light touch can be excruciating and the affected joint can be difficult to move or bend. Untreated gout can become chronic in nature and can cause nodules to form under the skin. These nodules are gouti tophi which can cause the skin to break down and ooze pus. In the most severe cases the urate crystals can build up in the kidneys and cause kidney stones. Eventually the kidney’s ability to filter waste products can be affected.
Gout is a disturbance of purine metabolism. It can be caused by genetic predisposition, faulty diet and certain medications. Medications such as diurectics, aspirin, and niacin are among the drugs thought to increase uric acid. Diet is another factor. Red meat, organ meats, shellfish, duck, oily fish, anchovies and herring, asparagus and cauliflower, beans and mushroom are thought to be causative factors. Alcohol consumption is another major contributory factor. More than two drinks per day for men or one per day for women increases the risk of gout. Beer is a major culprit.
The doctors at Livingston Foot Care Specialists have a novel approach to the treatment of gout. Utilizing special injection therapy, they are able to immediately relieve the pain and help increase the blood supply to the affected joints. This enables the uric acid crystals to be removed from the joint and to be reabsorbed into the blood stream. Patients often say they cannot believe their terrible pain is relieved.