If you are a sufferer of gout or know someone who suffers from the condition, you are only too aware of the pain the person has to live with.
Gout, also called gouty arthritis, causes severe pain and swelling in the joints. Although gout is a type of arthritis, it only flares up when high levels of uric acid circulate in the blood and form urate crystals that settle in the tissues of the joints. Gout is most common in men and often found in the big toe, but may also affect the heel, ankle, hand, wrist or elbow. Additionally, it may contribute to spine issues and back pain. Its onset is sudden and it usually goes away after 5-10 days, but may recur unless treated. Over time, gout can harm your joints, tendons and other tissues.
Gout and your feet – Symptoms
A recent study indicates that gout sufferers aged 45 and older are more likely compared to those that don’t have gout, to have lower but not upper extremity dysfunction. They are more likely to walk slower than average for their age and have poor performance in their feet.
Over many years of gout attacks in the big toe and other areas of your feet, your foot or leg slowly wears and tears, slowly breaking down. Blood flow is also reduced which makes it harder for your body to heal from injuries. Potential symptoms that you can experience with your feet include feeling a tingle, burn or hurt, foot odour, the skin of your feet can become dry and/or cracked, you may experience a fungus infection such as athlete’s foot that can appear in between your toes or have fungus in your nails, you may not feel cold or heat very well losing your sense of touch, the colour and the temperature of your feet may change, as well as your foot’s shape. All these symptoms will obviously slow you down and limit your mobility.
So what can you do to limit foot pain as a result of gout?
In addition to taking painkillers and following your doctor’s recommendations, wearing the right kind of shoes can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with your feet.
1. Ensure your footwear is wide enough to allow for swelling of the big toe, which is one of the first symptoms.
2. Shoes that have arch and metatarsal support will help reduce the strain on the ball of the foot.
3. Use shoes with forefoot rocker sole as they are rigid and keep the ball of the foot in place.
4. Allow plenty of space in your shoes so that your feet are not crushed and blood circulation is restricted. Tight shoes can lead to other feet issues like bunions and callouses.
5. Ensure your shoes allow for air circulation inside. A lack of adequate circulation can lead to the creation of heat and therefore further inflammation.
6. Your shoes must be well-cushioned and padded to protect them against bumping and jarring that may also trigger gout.
7. Trainers and thick-soled sandals are good options for people suffering from gout.
8. Avoid thin, strappy sandals that allow no room for adjustment; flip-flops; slippers; moccasins; and tight-fitting or narrow-toed shoes. High heels may be risky as well, as they put pressure on the knee and ankle, which may also trigger gout.
Wearing the right shoes can help reduce the pain and symptoms associated with gout and other foot problems, however, please make sure you seek advice from your doctor and podiatrist before embarking on any treatment plan.
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