health

Do Your Big Toes Ever Throb And Ache At Nighttime? It Could Be Caused By Gout

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

If you have aches and pains in your joints, you might think it’s just from everyday wear and tear, stress and strain, but what if it’s something else? And what if it’s not related to wear and tear at all?

Joint pain is a common ailment, especially as we get older. For many of us, the pain comes from the wearing down of cartilage between the bones. Overexertion and injury can also make things sore.

Sometimes, however, your bones can hurt and ache not from motion or strain at all — but rather from what you’re putting into your body.

We don’t always remember that what we eat and drink affects all parts of our bodies, including our bones. Everything is connected in there, and so certain types of foods, when eaten in excess, can cause pain in our joints.

One example of pain in joints is gout. This disease is caused by the byproducts of less-than-healthy foods eaten in large quantities, when uric acid crystals build up in joints. The disease is painful and as it’s commonly found in the feet, can make getting around difficult.

Luckily, this disease is caused by lifestyle choices for the most part, which means that it’s reversible with a few changes to dietary habits that you can make yourself.

Read on to learn about gout, how to spot it, and how to keep your joints healthy and flexible.

What Is Gout?

<u>What Is Gout?</u>
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Gout is what happens when crystals of uric acid build up in the joints, causing discomfort and limiting motion. It’s technically a form of arthritis because of these symptoms.

The uric acid crystals cause your body to react to their presence by way of inflammation, which causes the pain.

Gout is most commonly found in the big toe joint, usually the first place it manifests, but it can occur in any joint in the body.

It’s estimated that up to 2% of the Western population suffers from gout, and men are more likely to get it at a younger age than women.

What Causes Gout?

<u>What Causes Gout?</u>
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Gout is, for most people, caused by lifestyle choices.

There are those who have a genetic predisposition towards it, and it can also be linked to kidney issues, as well as exposure to lead.

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is a rare disorder in which uric acid builds up in the body.

As far as lifestyle choices go, the overconsumption of rich foods, sugars, and alcohol can all lead to gout. Those who are obese are also at greater risk for gout.

Gout usually occurs in conjunction with other health issues, like hypertension, insulin resistance, and more.

What Are The Symptoms Of Gout?
Symptom #1: Tender, Swollen Joints

<u>What Are The Symptoms Of Gout?</u><br>Symptom #1: Tender, Swollen Joints
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A gout flare-up is characterized, like other types of arthritis, by swollen, red, and tender joints.

With gout, the most commonly affected joints are those of the big toes. The pain usually grows over a period of a few hours, typically at night.

The joints may feel hot, and motion may be inhibited because of the pain. If it’s on the feet, walking might be uncomfortable.

Symptom #2: Fever

Symptom #2: Fever
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A gout flare-up can also cause fever in the body, usually a high one.

This may be linked to the inflammation in the body caused by the uric acid crystals.

Symptom #3: Fatigue

Symptom #3: Fatigue
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The pain, as well as the energy spent by your body reacting to the uric acid crystals, means you’re going to feel much more tired than usual.

Symptom #4: Decrease In Mobility

Symptom #4: Decrease In Mobility
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As uric acid crystals build up in joints and the joints become inflamed, moving around can get increasingly painful and difficult.

This is especially true since the toe joints are the most commonly affected.

Besides the toes, other commonly affected joints are the heels, knees, wrists, and fingers.

How Can I Prevent And Treat Gout Flare-Ups?
Management Tip #1: Cut Back On Processed Sugars

<u>How Can I Prevent And Treat Gout Flare-Ups?</u><br>Management Tip #1: Cut Back On Processed Sugars
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Foods high in processed sugars, when eaten in excess, are a major cause of gout, as well as other inflammatory ailments.

Reducing your intake of these foods is a great way to reduce the risk of gout and gout flare-ups, and great for your overall health, too.

Try replacing sugary snacks with fresh fruit, nuts, and vegetables, and swap out sodas and sugary drinks with water or unsweetened tea. And be sure to only consume alcohol in moderation.

Management Tip #2: Stay Hydrated

Management Tip #2: Stay Hydrated
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Water is perfect for flushing out excess materials that can lead to buildups in your body, including uric acid.

Add a bit of lemon to your water for an extra boost, as it will increase your body’s alkalinity and neutralize excess acids.

Half a lemon squeezed into 8 ounces of water is delicious and refreshing, and great for your body, especially before eating.

Management #3: Opt For Alkaline Foods

Management #3: Opt For Alkaline Foods
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Bodies that skew slightly alkaline have a decreased risk for gout, as well as for many other health issues, so eating foods that promote alkalinity is always a good idea.

A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water before meals is a great option, as is a tablespoon of baking soda.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, stick to eating plenty of veggies, tofu, and fruits.

Management Tip #4: Compresses And Soaks

Management Tip #4: Compresses And Soaks
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If you experience pain, treating it with a soak or a compress is a great way to relieve it.

Rest the joint and soak in Epsom salts to reduce inflammation. Cold or hot compresses can also help with pain and swelling.

If the pain isn’t letting up, talk to a doctor about starting a medical treatment plan.

Have you or someone you know ever suffered from gout? What was the thing that helped the most, either short- or long-term?

Let us know in the comments, and SHARE this information with everyone you know!