Gout: Separating Fact from Fiction


“Gout” - isn’t that something Grandpa complained about in his old age? Well, perhaps. But gouty flare-ups are not just for old people. That’s just one of the myths surrounding this pretty common disease. The podiatrists at Monmouth County’s Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center want to help you separate what’s gout fact and what’s gout fiction.

FACT: Gout is a form of arthritis. Arthritis means joint pain. Gout affects a joint because of a buildup of uric acid in the body. Eating too much red meat or indulging in too many alcoholic drinks can cause uric acid to build up in a joint.

FICTION: Gout only affects the big toe. The joint at the base of your big toe is one of the most common places that uric acid is likely to build up. But knees, ankles, and other joints in the foot can get it too.

FACT: Gout is hereditary. There is evidence to suggest that gout runs in families.

FICTION: Gout is a disease that rich people get. This is a myth that persists because it used to be more or less true! In centuries past, only the wealthy could afford the rich foods that are high in purines - seafood, red meat, and bacon, for example.

FACT: Obesity plays a role. A good number of those wealthy people of ages past who ate rich foods were also overweight. Obesity is a major risk factor for getting gout.

FACT: Gout is more common in men - although women certainly can and do get it. The playing field evens out for both men and women after age 60.

FICTION: If you’ve had gout once, you won’t get it again. Experts say that a person who’s had one attack of gout is 60% more likely to have a second attack within a year. If uric acid levels remain high, more attacks will follow.

FACT: Gout is extremely painful. If you develop sudden, excruciating pain, accompanied by swelling and redness in your big toe, call us at (732) 905-1110 for an appointment to see one of our board-certified podiatrists, Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, Dr. Dan Phan, and Dr. Joseph Saka. We have offices in Howell and Jackson, NJ and offer late appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as Saturday hours from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.