If you’ve ever been afflicted with gout, you know it can be one of the most painful and debilitating foot conditions. The oldest known form of arthritis, gout is caused by the build up of uric acid in the joints, particularly the toes, feet and knees. I have heard patients complain that it hurts so bad, even a brief gust of wind is excruciating. Ouch!

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), three million Americans experience a gout attack each year, and that number is on the rise. A Rochester Epidemiology Project study showed gout increased from 45 incidents per 100,000 people in 1977-1978 to 63.3 per 100,000 in 1995-1996. Another study showed gout rose from 2.9 to 5.2 incidents per 1,000 from 1990-1999.

Who is at risk of getting gout? Men under 65 are four times more likely than women of the same age. But women’s risk increases after menopause, so men are only three times more likely than women to experience gout after age 65, according to the CDC.

But more important than these factors is diet and lifestyle, because gout is most common among those who are overweight, drink alcohol, have high cholesterol or eat lots of meat. That’s why, not long ago, it was known as the disease of kings, who tended to enjoy a much richer diet than their less wealthy subjects. Gout is particularly associated with rich foods like cream sauces, red meat, beer and red wine. It can also be brought on by certain medications such as water pills, niacin, aspirin and some cancer drugs.

The good news is that most people have the power to control their gout by eating properly and cutting back on alcohol. Focus more on vegetables, healthy starches and lean meat like chicken and fish, reduce your intake of red meat, and avoid drinking alcohol.

If you are experiencing a gout attack, call our office right away because there are medications that can significantly shorten the attack. If left untreated, you could be in pain for several days or maybe even weeks.

And if you are prone to gout attacks, take your mother’s advice and eat more greens, switch from beer bottles to water bottles, and get off the couch and outside for some exercise. It’s amazing the impact this will have on your health!