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Gout (also known as gouty arthritis) is a condition caused by a buildup of the salts of uric acid (a normal byproduct of the diet) in the joints. The big toe joint is the most commonly affected area, possibly because it is subject to so much pressure in walking, but heel and ankle involvement is also common. Uric acid crystals deposit in areas furthest from the heart, where the temperature is cooler. Attacks of gouty arthritis are extremely painful. Men are more likely to be afflicted than women. Diets heavy in red meat, rich sauces, shellfish, and alcohol have been linked to gout. However, other proteins in foods, such as lentils and beans, may play a role.


The main symptom of gout is waking up in the middle of the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe, which is swollen.


Gout can be controlled with prescription medications and diet. The application of ice or cooling lotions helps alleviate pain and swelling during an acute phase. In some cases, specially-made shoes are prescribed to relieve the pain associated with gout. Gouty arthritis may need injections or surgical cleaning of spurs and crystal deposits (tophi) within the joint.

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