By Dr. Michelle Vi Nguyen

Ah, it must be good to be king: insurmountable wealth, gorgeous castles, lavish meals, and gout.

Wait, what? – Yes, gout!

Gout was historically deemed the “disease of kings” because it was associated with an opulent lifestyle. The onset of symptoms seemed to correlate with overindulgence of food and alcohol, a diet that only kings enjoyed. It was one of King Henry VIII’s lifetime companions, as if six wives were not enough!

These days, we understand gout occurs when there is an accumulation of uric acid in a joint. Everyone produces uric acid. Approximately 2/3 of uric acid is made in our bodies naturally and the remaining 1/3 we consume in the form of purines. Foods high in purines include organ meat, red meat, seafood, shellfish, dairy, and alcohol.

Basically: everything delicious can trigger a gout flareup!

Uric acid can build up in our system when we cannot excrete enough out in our urine. Overconsumption of purine rich foods, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history are some reasons why we would not excrete out enough uric acid.

Excess uric acid finds a home in which to accumulate, and the big toe joint is prime property. Why the big toe joint? Some will argue the big toe joint, is “just right” in temperature. It’s the warm porridge of joints for gout. The joint is “hot” because it gets abundant motion where uric acid remains dissolved in the blood stream. However, it is also “cool” because the joint is far enough from the body’s core, which enables the uric acid to form painful gout crystal in the joint.

Gout flares will eventually stop without treatment. Thankfully, there are treatment options to shorten the suffering associated with gout attacks, including steroids, NSAIDs, or other medications such as colchicine. If you have frequent gout flares, taking routine medications to reduce your level of systemic uric acid may be indicated.

So really, the “disease of kings” is an equal opportunist. It is very common and can happen to a variety of people.  If you are experiencing foot pain and suspect it may be a gout flare, call and make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists by calling us at 512-447-4122. We will treat you like royalty!