Common symptoms of gout are sudden and severe pain in one or more joints, typically in your big toe. Pain often develops at night making your joints tender and swollen. You may also suffer from peeling, itchy and flaky skin over the affected joint as the inflammation subsides. Severe gout pain makes walking difficult and even the slightest pressure on the joint becomes unbearable.
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood. This acid is a waste product from purines. If you produce too much uric acid or excrete too little when you urinate, the acid will build up.
During an attack it is important to rest, raise your limb and avoid knocking or damaging the affected joint. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel, to the affected area. Drink plenty of water (at least 2 pints a day)and avoid alcohol. Weight loss is the most effective dietary treatment because it can reduce your urate levels. Weight loss should be combined with a healthy diet and daily exercise. Extreme weight loss or starvation diets can raise urate levels by speeding up the breakdown of cells in the body.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative (wear and tear) condition characterised by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more joints of the body. Cartilage cushions and protects the surfaces of the bones during movement. Osteoarthritis usually develops as part of the ageing process and can restrict one's ability to perform everyday tasks without pain. Osteoarthritis can occur in various joints throughout the body, including feet, hands, spine, hips and knees. In the foot the disease most commonly affects the first toe joint but can also affect the joints in the forefoot. Foot pain can be experienced to different degrees in the foot and ankle often with swelling, stiffness and inflammation in or near the joint.
As the disease progresses the cartilage deteriorates and gets thinner. The surface of the bones lose their protective layer and eventually rub together. Injury can also lead to osteoarthritis although this may take many years to develop
Treatment of osteoarthritis in the foot by a podiatrist is to pursue the relief of symptoms by palliative means such as orthotic devices, shoe inserts, gel cushions and strapping. Sometimes immobilisation of the foot may be necessary to allow acute inflammation to subside. In extreme cases medial intervention may be necessary to introduce oral medication and in some cases anti-inflammatory injections. It is always advisable for people suffering from arthritis in the foot and ankle to wear supportive footwear such as lace-ups or trainers.
When a baby is born, the bones in his/her feet are made of soft, flexible cartilage. This hardens as the baby grows but the feet wont be fully developed until the child's late teens. Newborns' feet are quite flat but by about 2 years old you should be able to see what kind of foot shape the child will have. Toddlers will inherit one of three main foot shapes:
Tapered - the big toe is the biggest of all the toes
Rounded - the second or third toe is longer than the big toe
Square - all the toes are about the same length
Allow a toddler's feet to develop as naturally as possible. Let him spend time every day without shoes so that he can exercise the muscles in the feet. Check socks/tights/sleep suits regularly to ensure there is sufficient room at the toes.