Toe Gout: Symptoms And Treatment Options

Gout occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate around a joint, especially the joint of your big toe. It is a type of arthritis, and while women can develop gout, it is more common in men. Other joints that may be affected by gout include the elbow joints, ankle joints, and knee joints. Gout can also develop in your foot insteps steps and your heels. If you believe you may have toe gout, see both your primary care doctor and your podiatrist.

Symptoms Of Toe Gout

One of the most common symptoms of toe gout includes excruciating pain and tenderness in the joint of your big toe. Inflammation, redness, increased warmth over the affected joint, and limited range of motion are also common. You may also notice small lumps under the skin of your toe, which are typically caused by uric acid deposits that are called tophi. The symptoms of toe gout can mimic other inflammatory joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, but unlike gout, these conditions do not usually cause elevated levels of uric acid.

You may be at risk for developing gout in your toe if your diet is rich in purines. High-purine foods include sardines and anchovies, organ meats, bacon, and veal. Being overweight, having a family history of gout, excessive alcohol intake, and kidney disease may also raise your risk for developing toe gout.

Treatment Options For Toe Gout

After a comprehensive foot examination which may include x-rays, your podiatrist will develop a treatment plan for your toe gout. They may recommend that you limit your intake of dietary purine and alcohol, take anti-inflammatory medications, rest your foot, and ice your toe to reduce pain and swelling. Your podiatrist may also recommend corticosteroid injections to further decrease inflammation, reduce your pain, and restore the mobility of your toe.

While these interventions will help provide symptomatic relief, they may not substantially decrease uric acid levels in your blood, which is one of the hallmarks of gout. In addition to consuming a gout-friendly diet to decrease uric acid levels, your doctor may also prescribe an anti-gout medication called colchicine to substantially reduce blood levels of uric acid and to prevent the future development of uric acid crystals in your toe joint. 

If you have any of the above signs and symptoms of toe gout, make an appointment with your podiatrist and primary care physician. Following your treatment plan will help lower your risk of developing permanent joint damage of the toe and help ensure that you remain symptom-free.

Contact a local podiatrist to learn more.