Gout in the ankle or ankle gout is an inflammatory condition of the joint leading to swelling, pain, and redness of the ankle. Gout is a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone, with over eight million Americans suffering from the condition today. Men are typically affected more, but postmenopausal women become increasingly susceptible in their later years.
The most common joint affected by gout is the big toe, but joint pain may also be experienced in the knees, hands, ankles, and wrists. Having gout in the ankle can be very debilitating as it encumbers your ability to walk normally.
This article will answer the question “what causes gout in the ankle,” giving you a better understanding of the intricacies of the condition to better treat it.
What causes ankle gout?
Gout occurs due to the accumulation of urate crystals in the joint, causing inflammation and intense pain. These crystals can form when you have high uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). Your body innately produces uric acid when it breaks down purines-substances that are found naturally in the body, as well as in certain foods, such as steak, organ meats, and seafood. Other foods that promote higher levels of uric acid include alcoholic beverages and drinks sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar).
In a normal individual without gout, uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys to be expelled in the urine. But sometimes, the body produces too much uric acid, or the kidneys excrete too little of it. When this happens, uric acid can build up, forming sharp, needle-like urate crystals that become deposited in a joint or surrounding tissue causing pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Uric acid crystals tend to form in cooler temperatures, which is why they tend to form in the distal extremities, such as the hands and feet, which have a higher likelihood of becoming colder than the rest of the body.
Possible medical and health triggers of gout include:
- Surgical trauma
- Severe illness
- Certain diuretic medications
- Taking cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant medication)
- Joint injury
- Starting a uric acid lower treatment
Lifestyle triggers may include:
- Drinking high sugar sodas
- Consuming foods with high purine levels
- Crash diets and fasting
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Symptoms of gout in ankle
Gout symptoms tend to occur at night, as this is the time when body temperatures begin to lower. Symptoms of gout in the ankle typically occur rapidly over a few hours with the skin of the affected joint appears shiny with possible small, firm lumps felts underneath the skin. If left untreated, the entire area may become hot to the touch during the initial episode. If not remedied over a long period of time, advanced cases of gout may lead to joint and kidney damage.
Symptoms of gout include:
- Intense pain
- Possible fever
Symptoms tend to recur anywhere from six months to two years after the initial episode, with approximately 60 percent of gout patients having a recurrence within one year.
How to treat gout in the ankle
The following are various remedies for gout in the ankle. By addressing gout in ankle symptoms before they get out of control, it can help mitigate pain and swelling. It is recommended to speak to your doctor about particular distressing pain caused by gout as they can provide better-tailored gout ankle treatment.
Some patients affected by gout will say that taking baking soda helps them feel better, but others will say it has no effect. Baking soda is an alkaline substance that allows the blood to reduce the amount of uric acid crystallization and uric acid crystal deposition in joints leading to gouty joints. However, it is highly advised to speak to a medical professional before attempting this particular treatment as it may induce several side effects.
Apple cider vinegar
A common natural remedy used by gout patients, it is said that by taking it as soon as you feel a gout attack coming on, you can help relieve the associated pain.
Soaking your ankles in a mixture of Epsom salts and water can help relax the area, providing soothing relief from pain and inflammation.
Includes the likes of cherries, bananas, and celery, which can help to reduce gout-related pain and swelling by eliminating uric acid from the body.
One study found that taking 1,500mg of vitamin C per day decreases the risk of gout by 45 percent, possibly due to its antioxidant effects. It is advised to speak with your doctor before implementing any supplementation into your diet.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
A common pain-relieving medication that can be commonly found in many pharmacies and grocery stores. They are designed to reduce pain and swelling. However, long-term use of these drugs may lead to liver damage and even increase the risk of heart attacks. NSAIDs can also be found in topical solution and don’t pose as much risk as oral formats. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen can work well if taken soon after symptoms develop.
Constantly putting stress on your joints will make it difficult for the recovery process. Not taking the time to rest will often worsen gouty pain. Elevating the leg can also help relieve pressure on your ankle joint and return blood to the upper part of the body.
This may be done by simply applying ice to the affected joint to help reduce pain and swelling. Using an ice pack is ideal, but ice cubes in a towel or a bag of frozen vegetables will also do the trick. It is recommended to ice the affected part of the body for about 15 to 20 minutes every two to four hours. Compressing or wrapping the area will help to further reduce swelling. Additionally, elevating the ankle to above the level of the heart, such as laying down with your ankle elevated on pillows can also help minimize swelling.
Prevention of gout in the ankle
Once painful symptoms of gout in the ankle have subsided, following these prevention tips can help you avoid repeat episodes:
Lose excess weight
Obese individuals are more likely to suffer from gout in the ankle. If weight loss is difficult, it may be worth it to speak to your doctor about the methods that may benefit you.
Drinking at least two liters of water a day will help ensure your kidneys are working properly to excrete toxins such as uric acid.
Avoid purine-rich foods
This may include oily fish, offal, organ meats, and vegetables such as asparagus and spinach. Purines are metabolized into uric acid, so eliminating them in your diet will help prevent gout in the ankle.
Avoid fructose-sweetened drinks
This includes fruit juices and soft drinks.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Especially bitter, stout, and fortified wines that can increase urate levels in the body.
Speak to your doctor
When facing any sort of health issue, it is always worth it to get an experts opinion on how it should be treated. This is especially important if you currently take other medication as some home remedies may interact with previously prescribed medication. There are also cases where the medication you are currently taking predisposes you to develop gout.