If you have gout, you have a vivid understanding of how terrible and painful this condition can be. Some of the most frequent gout symptoms include intense pain bouts, significant swelling, and extreme joint soreness.
This frequently occurs at the base of the big toe. These assaults can happen at any time of day or night, making the big toe feel like it’s on fire.
This article will explore if it is safe to walk with gout. We will also cover how to manage, treat, and prevent this condition.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a common type of painful inflammatory arthritis. It often affects only one joint at a time (often the big toe joint). There are periods when symptoms worsen, referred to as flares, and times when there are no symptoms, referred to as remission.
Gouty arthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis caused by recurrent bouts of gout. Unfortunately, there is no current cure for gout. However, it may be effectively treated and managed using medicine and self-management techniques.
A typical gout flare may last up to two weeks, though anti-inflammatory medicine may help you feel better sooner.
What Causes Gout?
Purines are chemicals that the body breaks down and are found in some foods and beverages. As a consequence of the purine breakdown, uric acid is produced.
Some people’s kidneys are incapable of removing uric acid from the body efficiently. This results in hyperuricemia or increased uric acid. Psoriasis, leukemia, and obesity are some of the other reasons for hyperuricemia.
Monosodium urate crystals require hyperuricemia to develop. These crystals may accumulate in the joints, causing swelling and pain. However, hyperuricemia may not necessarily result in gout.
There are various risk factors that may raise the likelihood of gout. These are some examples:
- being overweight
- suffering from high blood pressure
- consuming alcoholic beverages
- consuming purine-rich foodstuff
- having a gouty family history
- eating beverages high in fructose corn syrup
- suffering from chronic kidney disease
- getting older
What Is the Cause of Gout in the Foot?
50% of all gout cases begin with an attack in the bunion joints of the big toes in the majority of patients. But why is this the case? One explanation holds that it is simply due to gravity, with the acids naturally settling into the furthest joints of the lower extremities: the big toes.
Another explanation is that because the feet and toes are the body parts that are furthest from the heart, where the body temperature is lower due to circulation, their joints are more prone to the production of acid crystals. This explains why gout seems to be more common in many cooler areas.
Over time, gout may gradually spread to other joints in the body, usually one at a time, such as:
- The metatarsals: These are the long bones that go across the tops of the foot.
- The tarsals: These are the seven bones that make up the ankle.
- Heels (on rare occasions).
The Benefits of Walking
Walking is an excellent strategy to enhance or maintain your health. Just 30 minutes every day may improve cardiovascular fitness, bone strength, extra body fat loss, and muscle power and endurance.
In addition, walking may help lower your chance of acquiring illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and several malignancies. Walking, unlike several other types of exercise, is free and requires no specific equipment or instruction.
Even if it is not arduous or protracted, physical activity may benefit your health. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done at your own pace, is a 24/7 activity, and requires little equipment.
You don’t need to worry about the hazards associated with some more demanding forms of exercise if you take a stroll outside. For those who are overweight, aged, or haven’t exercised in a while, walking is an excellent type of exercise.
You’ve probably already noticed some of the benefits that may directly improve the symptoms of your gout as readers of our blog. Let’s take a closer look at how walking on a regular basis can potentially help improve your overall health and lifestyle.
Benefits of Walking for Health
Walking for fun and fitness does not have to be confined to wandering around your neighborhood streets by yourself. There are numerous clubs, places, and tactics available to help you make walking a fun and social part of your daily routine.
When you walk, you are carrying your own body weight. This is referred to as weight-bearing exercise. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking is a lot more beneficial than helping you get from Point A to Point B.
Here are some of the potential health benefits to consider while beginning this surprisingly effective exercise:
- May help improve your circulatory system: Walking helps to prevent heart disease by increasing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and strengthening the heart. Postmenopausal women who exercise one to two kilometers every day for 24 weeks may reduce their blood pressure by about 11 points.Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that walking 30 minutes per day may cut the risk of stroke by 20%. Not only that, but if they pick up the pace, they may lower it even further by up to 40%!
- Strengthen Your Bones: Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York claims that walking may prevent osteoporosis sufferers from losing bone mass. In fact, a post-menopausal women’s risk of hip fracture was shown to be decreased by 40% by 30 minutes of daily walking, according to one study.
- Live a Longer Life: According to research, adults in their fifties and sixties who walk frequently are 35% less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. For people with underlying health issues, this figure rises to 45% less likely.
- Helps Improve Your Mood: Walking causes the body to produce natural pain-killing endorphins, which is one of the emotional advantages of exercise. A California State University, Long Beach study found that participants’ emotions improved with the number of steps they took throughout the day.
- Helps weight loss: Walking is a good example of a physical activity that is beneficial for weight management because it helps you burn calories. If you add 30 minutes of brisk walking to your routine, you might burn an additional 150 calories. Of course, you’ll burn more calories if you walk more frequently and at a faster speed.Walking briskly for 30 minutes burns 200 calories. Burning calories can cause weight loss over time.
- Helps you sleep better: Walking outside in the morning to expose yourself to natural light helps to habituate a good circadian rhythm, which promotes healthy sleep. Exercise has also been linked to stress reduction and physical well-being, both of which could lead to better sleep.Studies have shown that women between the ages of 50 and 75 were more likely to get sleep alleviation if they took an hour-long morning stroll.
- Helps build up muscles: Walking does not develop large, bulky muscles, but it does develop some muscles. Some people avoid using the treadmill’s inclination or walking hills outside for fear of developing leg muscles that will make their legs appear larger. However, this is unlikely because even vigorous walking is aerobic exercise.If you pump your arm muscles while walking, walking tones your arm, leg, and stomach muscles as well. This improves your range of motion by moving pressure and weight away from your joints and toward your muscles.
- Protect Your Joints: The majority of joint cartilage is not directly supplied by the blood. The joint fluid that moves when we move feeds it. Walking movement and compression “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area.
- Enhance Your Breathing: Walking causes your respiratory rate to increase. This helps oxygen to pass more quickly through the bloodstream, aiding in the elimination of waste products and improving your energy level and ability to heal.
- Reduce the rate of mental decline:
A study of 6,000 women aged 65 and up conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered that those who walked more had less age-related memory deterioration. Women who walked 2.5 miles per day had a 17% reduction in memory, whereas women who walked less than a half-mile per week had a 25% decline.
- Reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease: According to a study conducted by the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, men aged 71 to 93 who walked more than a quarter mile per day had half the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as those who walked less.
- Do More for a Longer Time: Aerobic walking and resistance training regimens may lower the incidence of disability in daily activities in persons over the age of 65 with symptomatic OA, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.
Be Mindful of Certain Risks When Walking
Walking and other forms of moderate exercise include some dangers, such as the possibility of joint damage or aggravation of gout symptoms. According to the Arthritis Foundation, when walking people should be:
- Wearing supportive and comfortable shoes.
- Wearing form-fitting garments to avoid clothing material getting snagged on anything, such as equipment.
- When cycling, use a stationary bike to limit the danger of injury.
- Begin slowly and avoid excessive physical exertion.
What Are Joint-Friendly Activities?
Walking when suffering from gout is safe, even in severe arthritic circumstances. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), engaging in joint-friendly physical activity is critical for minimizing gout-related discomfort.
Any activity that does not place too much strain on the joints and reduces the chance of damage is considered joint-friendly. Among these activities are:
Experts recommend that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. The CDC, on the other hand, suggests that people with gout start slowly.
They should pay attention to how their bodies tolerate movement. Over time, they can gradually increase the length of time they exercise.
People should be careful to modify their physical activities in accordance with their gout symptoms. If symptoms worsen, this can include cutting back on exercise time.
Is It Safe To Walk With Gout?
Physical activity may be challenging for people suffering from gout. In most situations, people are concerned that physical activity might aggravate their gout.
So, should you walk or engage in any activity if you have gout? The truth is that many gout sufferers ask themselves this question. Yes, you can, in a nutshell.
However, you should not do so during a painful gout flare-up, according to Maura Daly Iversen, PT, MPH, DPT, SD, FAPTA, Dean of the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
Even routine daily activities like walking, which most people take for granted, can become major concerns for gout sufferers. After all, the discomfort experienced during a gout attack may make even the most basic activities, like wearing socks, just intolerable.
Potential Gout Symptoms to Be Aware Of
You shouldn’t move your joint if you have an active gout episode. A few signs of a gout attack in progress include:
- Those inflamed joints seem red.
- Your joints are swollen more than normal.
- The discomfort you’re experiencing is far worse than usual.
- Those joints have a warm feeling to them.
These are indications that an active inflammatory attack is brewing in certain joints. During an active gout attack, you should strive to keep the joint as still as possible.
You should also try applying ice to your affected joints in 20-minute increments to minimize swelling. This may also assist you in controlling your discomfort and minimizing the duration of an active gout episode.
Gout attacks often last three to ten days. However, if you manage your gout effectively, you may be able to spend months without experiencing an episode.
This is where exercise comes into play. If you have gout, you want to do everything you can to avoid gout attacks. There are a few important strategies to lessen the frequency of your gout attacks.
Moving Safely During a Gout Flare
Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body, which creates small crystals. (Uric acid is a waste product of regular metabolism.) These uric acid crystals may settle in your joints, most commonly in your big toe at the middle joint or where your toe connects to your foot.
A buildup of uric acid crystals may also form in the midfoot joint and ankle, causing acute pain that is intense, swelling, and even hot and heated to the touch. Because these lower extremity joints carry weight, walking becomes difficult and extremely painful when someone has a gout flare-up.
Dr. Iversen recommends decreasing weight on your feet and other weight-bearing joints during a gout flare. A good technique to accomplish this is to use a walking aid, such as a cane, in the hand opposite your affected foot to unload the joint.
Unloading the joint reduces the force placed on it, which can lessen inflammation and allow you to move around for daily tasks. You can also use ice and cold to reduce inflammation and pain, but this should be done with caution because the joints might be highly sensitive.
Why Walking and Exercise Are Important for Gout Patients
Walking is an excellent approach to alleviate gout symptoms. It is critical for those suffering from gout to take actions to lessen discomfort, increase joint range of motion, and increase energy.
Walking is beneficial to all the aforementioned. Walking may also help you lose weight, which is an important element of gout management. When and how you should walk, on the other hand, is a little trickier.
The good news is that individuals with gout can walk without worrying about inducing painful gout symptoms. In fact, regular exercises like walking are considered joint-friendly activities since they help reduce gout pain and the possibility of a gout flare-up.
Gout, according to the Mayo Clinic, may erode and damage your joints if left untreated. This is why it is vital to follow your prescribed treatment regimen. Physical activity and exercise are important for maintaining joint health when suffering from gout for two reasons:
- Helps lower uric acid levels to prevent gout attacks: According to research, the body’s fat stores more uric acid than its muscle does. Dr. Iversen explains that this means lowering body fat also lowers blood uric acid levels. According to Harvard Health, individuals with gout have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure, making cardiovascular health through exercise even more crucial. Coronary artery disease and gout have a high correlation.
- Maintaining a healthy weight protects your joints from excessive weight-bearing strain: According to this 2016 study, a healthy diet to regulate weight, such as the DASH diet meant to reduce high blood pressure, has been proven to assist patients to reduce their uric acid levels. Be careful not to lose too much weight too rapidly, as this might cause uric acid to rise.
Finding the Right Footwear
Gout patients commonly wear ill-fitting shoes with inadequate cushioning and support, which may add to foot discomfort and impairment. Non-pharmacological therapies such as high-cushioning footwear and motion control may be beneficial.
However, there is currently little knowledge concerning gout patients’ footwear experiences.
A study was conducted to better understand footwear attributes, the experience of purchasing footwear, and factors influencing footwear choice in gout patients.
A web-based poll of persons who visited a gout education website was used for the study. Gout was self-reported by participants.
The 17-item survey includes questions regarding demographic and clinical features, the kind of footwear worn, difficulties finding appropriate footwear, and variables influencing footwear choices.
The survey results were reported using a hybrid quantitative and qualitative methodology.
Finally, the research found that persons with gout require comfortable shoes that fit the foot, have a large opening, are composed of malleable materials, and have adjustable straps. The main footwear barriers are the difficulty in finding shoes that are wide enough, acceptable for work, and visually pleasing.
These findings give clinicians vital insights into the interests and demands of patients with gout, which should be taken into account when creating footwear therapies.
Foot pain and sensitivity may last for days or weeks after a painful gout flare-up. As a result, it is critical to wear supportive footwear that addresses important comfort areas to give the damaged joints time to heal and recover.
Ideal Shoe Features for Gout Sufferers
Extra Padding Under Forefoot Areas: When walking, forefoot padding provides additional cushioning beneath the troubled toe joints.
Soft Stretch Uppers: Flexible uppers offer a shoe wall that will softly flex around sensitive, uncomfortable foot areas.
Sturdy Outsoles: To avoid any twisting or torquing of the feet, select shoes with stable, supportive outsoles.
Breathable Uppers: To avoid any heat buildup inside the shoe that could aggravate already warm or hot joints, breathability is essential.
Wide Toe Boxes: Wide toe boxes allow for natural toe splay as well as any remaining toe joint edema.
Motion Encouraging Outsoles: Walking is easier when you have shoes with outsoles that help you move ahead while you walk.
Arch Support: The right arch support aids in distributing the body’s weight on the feet.
Cushioned Footbeds: To maintain a relaxed and comfortable feeling on the bottoms of the feet, footbeds should be well-cushioned.
Contoured Footbeds: Your weight will be evenly distributed and any pressure areas will be reduced by footbeds that mimic the natural contour of the feet.
Gel Heel Cushions: When gout is verified in the heels, which is an uncommon occurrence, heel cushions provide additional cushioning.
Heel Locks: Particularly in work boots, heel locks keep the foot in place to stop it from sliding into the front shoe walls.
Adjustable Straps: You can alter the fit of a shoe as needed thanks to adjustable straps.
Padded Collars: If you have ankle gout, search for shoes with softly padded collars that go around the painful area.
Have Peace of Mind Next Time You Walk
It is critical that you exercise on a regular basis, especially if you have gout. Exercising not only strengthens your joints but also helps you lose weight, which is essential for avoiding gout attacks.
If you don’t want to move at all after an intense flare-up, that’s fine. You simply need to believe in your body’s ability to heal. Why not put these tips to the test and try walking with gout?