Have you ever been awoken by the sensation of incredible pain coursing through your ankles and toes? Did those same areas appear swollen and red? Perhaps they felt hot and sensitive to touch as well. If so, you may have developed a type of incurable arthritis in your feet and ankles.
Known as gout, it is a progressive disease that typically afflicts certain segments of the population. Among those that may find themselves in such situations are post-menopausal women. Researchers believe that the condition tends to occur in females, in a small part, due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause. The condition also tends to be associated with comorbidities like diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, alcoholism and kidney disease.
The disease is generally accepted by those in the podiatry community to have four stages. The first is known as asymptomatic hyperuricemia. The subsequent stages are acute, intercritical and chronic tophaceous. Preventive measures may be taken to help reduce a woman’s chance of developing gout. If it does form, aggressive treatment is generally given during the second and fourth stages when the body’s uric acid levels are at their greatest. It may also be given during the third stage when the disease is less active.
Because the condition is caused by excessive levels of uric acid, two types of tests are commonly used to confirm a gout diagnosis. The first type involves a blood draw. The second type consists of removing and analyzing a person’s synovial fluid. However, some members of the medical community may also request a urinalysis, X-rays and a synovial biopsy be completed as well.
Once a gout diagnosis has been made, there are quite a few treatment options that may be prescribed by your St. Louis podiatrist. Some of the standard methods used early in the disease’s progression are the adoption of medication routines, lifestyle and dietary changes. In the mid to final stages, a podiatrist may recommend surgery.
The formation of something known as “tophi” tends to be the main impetus for such recommendations to be issued. Tophi are actually pockets of uric acid crystals that can be drained to alleviate some of the person’s discomfort and minimize his or her risk of irreversible joint damage. We should also mention that the pockets’ drainage may also help to improve a person’s range of motion and ambulation. To learn more about gout in women and how it may be treated, please contact our St. Louis podiatry office today.
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