Friday, July 29, 2011

Study: More Americans Having Bouts with Gout

A new study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism reveals that 8.3 million Americans suffer from the incapacitating condition of gout – up from 6.1 million Americans 20 years ago.

Gout is caused by high uric acid levels in the bloodstream, causing crystals that precipitate in joints of the foot. Gout pain typically affects the joint of the big toe. (This is true in just about 75% of cases.) As uric acid levels increase, so does the likelihood of gout pain. Gout pain typically manifests in episodes – called gout attacks or gout flares. During a gout attack or gout flare, a person feels an extreme amount of pain and experiences severe swelling and redness in the big toe. A gout attack or gout flare can last just hours or days, but over time they can last longer, occur with greater frequency, or even become more painful.

These attacks or flares may occur only at certain times of the year. Typically they start during the night without warning. Patients sometimes complain that it hurts to even have a sheet touch the inflamed area when lying in bed. A number of triggers have been identified which are responsible for gout attacks. They include alcohol, dehydration, certain medications, stress, certain diets that are high in purines from meat and fish, and rapid lowering of uric acid levels with medication.

Treatment of gout is usually done with anti-inflammatory medication and steroids. Lifestyle changes – such as the avoidance of alcohol, diet low in purines from meat and fish, and even exercise – can be helpful in lessening the likelihood that you will suffer from gout attacks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Worried about warts? Here's what you should know.

With the beautiful summer weather comes more time by the pool. And with more time by the pool comes more foot ailments – particularly plantar warts.

This is because plantar warts are caused by a virus. They are fairly common, occurring on the sole of the foot. They are more prone to develop in areas on the sole where there is more pressure and friction.

The wart develops on the superficial, outermost area of the skin and appears as a thickened growth – almost like a callus. While normally not painful, if the wart is located on an area that is subjected to pressure it can become quite tender.

It is important to know that because warts are caused by a virus, they are contagious. In summer, it is common to see a number of patients with plantar warts picked up from walking barefoot at the pool or using the pool showers without wearing flip flops or water shoes. While plantar warts can be seen in all age groups, they are most common among children 12-16. We also see an upswing of plantar warts in the fall when college students head back to the dorms.

Since warts are common among children, it is important to make sure your children understand the importance of wearing footwear whenever possible, even when walking around the pool and especially in the shower/locker room area. Also, you should make a point to ask your child about their feet periodically or check their feet yourself for any evidence of warts or other foot conditions. Sometimes they may be embarrassed to tell you about a problem, think it is normal, or not even notice that there is a problem. However, if they are walking barefoot in your home, they could be spreading the virus on your floors and putting other members of your family at risk for warts.

And finally – please do not try any do-it-yourself fixes to rid yourself of the warts. At Community Foot Specialists, we’ve seen patients who have tried cutting the wart from your foot or the duct tape remedy you read about various places on the internet. Resorting to such methods may lead to infection. We have a few different methods available to treat the affected area. Contact our office for details.