Gout is actually a form of arthritis that affects joints.  Gouty arthritis in the foot usually affects the big toe joint although it can affect other joints of the foot as well.   An acute gout attack is characterized as throbbing, aching sudden onset pain.  It can appear red and swollen, and the pain is so severe that patients often describe an inability to even bear the weight of a sheet touching their foot.  

Some signs that the pain could be caused by a gout attack include:

-intense joint pain - it can occur in other joints for the foot, however most commonly, it will occur in the base of the big toe.  It is very tender to touch. It often affects one joint and one foot at a time, not multiple joints or both feet. 

-acute pain without a history of trauma - the pain peaks 12-24 hours after first onset, and seems to come out of nowhere, many times occurring at night and will cause an abrupt awakening.  In addition, there will be a lack of a break in skin or something causing the pain from the outside.

-lingering pain - the pain usually lingers for several days and may last several weeks.  The pain does not travel to other joints or other parts of the foot or body, and the redness also stays only around the affected area.

What is the best thing to do if you think you have gout?  You should make an appointment with your foot specialist right away.  A thorough exam  to rule out infection which would also include x-rays to rule out trauma will guide you to the right treatment plan. Your podiatrist will know how to give you some pain relief for your foot as well.   In addition, a visit to your primary care doctor for blood tests and medical management would also be necessary after the diagnosis of gout.  Your primary care doctor will determine the cause and prescribe the specific medications to prevent further gout attacks.  But if you do feel pain as described above and want to make sure to rule it out, make an appointment with our doctors and we can help!