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Can Gout Cause Heel Pain?

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If you have heel pain, you may not realize that gout could be the cause. Most people think gout only affects the big toe. However, it can affect any joint, especially in and around the feet. The problem is that heel pain can have other causes, such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis. But gout has some distinct symptoms. Continue reading to learn more about gout in the heel or how it differs from other heel problems.

What Is Gout? 

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by crystals that form due to high uric acid levels. Uric acid is a waste product that occurs when your body breaks down purines. Purines are common in many foods, like liver, seafood, beer, and red meats.

In healthy people, uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes out through the kidneys as urine. However, if you consume a lot of these foods, and have other health issues, you are more susceptible to gout. People at the highest risk include those who are overweight, have diabetes, or have poor kidney function.

Why Does Gout Affect the Feet?

Gout can attack any joint. However, it tends to affect joints near the extremities the most. Many people notice it in their feet, but gout can also affect the fingers, ankles, and knees. The feet are the furthest away from the heart, so they usually have the lowest temperature. Low body temperatures facilitate the formation of uric acid crystals.

How Is Gout Different From Other Heel Problems?

Since gout is usually a buildup of uric acid crystals, you will see redness and swelling at the heel joint. Gout tends to become painful in the middle of the night, even when you don't put pressure on your feet. Plantar fasciitis is most painful when you first put weight on your foot in the morning. Also, plantar fasciitis causes pain more toward the middle of the foot.

While tendonitis also causes swelling, it can be less noticeable than gout. Most tendonitis cases are the result of overuse, so it tends to come on gradually. Gout often flares up suddenly and usually after you eat certain foods.

How Can an Orthopedist Help With Gout?

Orthopedists are experts when it comes to joints. They are a good place to start for any type of joint or foot pain. An orthopedist can also rule out other conditions like plantar fasciitis and tendonitis. They can also help if your condition requires surgical intervention.

Gout can cause heel pain, but it isn't the only cause. If you experience heel pain, have a doctor run some tests to be sure. Gout, when caught early, is highly treatable without surgery. Even if it is not gout, an orthopedist will be able to help. If you have heel pain or any other joint problem, contact an orthopedist for an examination.