What’s the Real Cause of Your Foot Pain: Gout or Bunion?
It’s time to get to the bottom of what’s causing your foot pain. If you’re ready for relief, this article will help clarify whether the root cause of your pain and discomfort is gout or a bunion.
Did you know that gout and bunions are commonly mistaken for one another? Gout and bunions are two completely different conditions which can cause foot pain that can worsen over time if untreated. Both of these conditions can affect the big toe. However, it’s important to be able to differentiate between these two conditions in order to ensure you receive proper care so that you can resume living without debilitating foot pain.
The Main Differences Between Bunions and Gout
While bunions are related to abnormalities in foot structure, gout is a systemic condition that can affect the whole body and is a result of a build-up of uric acid in the blood.
Bunions develop gradually over time and manifest as a bony bump where the big toe connects to the foot at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint.
Gout can often be mistaken for a bunion because it most commonly affects the MTP joint, although it can affect many other joints as well, including knees, ankles, elbows, wrists and fingers.
Bunions are more common in adult women while gout is more common among adult men, as women tend to have weaker connective tissues in their feet, and men tend to have higher uric acid levels.
Symptoms of Gout
Gout flare-ups cause stabbing pain and swelling. The joint that it’s affecting may feel hot and sensitive to any form of touch or pressure. Flare-ups can last for hours, days or even weeks. Sometimes they can pass without any form of treatment.
Symptoms of Bunions
Bunions can cause extreme pain induced by swelling in the MTP joint. Because the bone deformation caused by a bunion makes the big toe turn inward you may also begin to develop a hard callus where the big toe rubs against the second toe.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is a result of a build-up of uric acid in your blood. When your kidneys are not able to filter out the appropriate amount of uric acid. This build up can cause your joints to become swollen, inflamed and painful.
Your body naturally makes uric acid during the process of breaking down purines in food and beverages you consume such as fatty meats, certain seafoods such as tuna and shrimp, foods with high fructose corn syrup and alcoholic beverages.
There are several lifestyle factors and pre-existing health conditions that can increase your risk for developing gout including: alcohol consumption, higher BMI (body mass index), high blood pressure and diabetes.
What Causes Bunions?
Many researchers hypothesize that bunions can sometimes be genetic and linked to inherited foot structure abnormalities.
Other researchers propose that poorly fitting shoes or high heels may cause these painful bumps; however, there is still debate whether footwear can actually cause bunions or whether ill-fitting footwear only worsens existing foot problems.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Bunion care is focused solely on foot health and pain can be alleviated through therapies that reduce stress on the big toe. If nonsurgical treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be the best option for you.
Gout treatment is more focused on lifestyle changes and pain from flare-ups can be managed with medication.
If you are experiencing foot pain, the best thing you can do is visit your physician for an exam.
If you believe you are suffering from a bunion or gout and want to be evaluated by one of our physicians at Triad Foot & Ankle Center, please call 336-375-6990, or visit our website at triadfoot.com to request an appointment.
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