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Painful Arthritis Condition, Gout, Plaguing Younger People

MIAMI (CBS4) -- Gout is one of the most painful arthritis conditions, and it's no longer a problem only for older people. It's now attacking people as young as 30.

At 40, Bob Fratto thought it was just a sprain.

"It started out as a small pain in my big toe," he described.

He didn't think he'd have arthritis, especially an excruciatingly painful kind.

"The whole toe area was red and inflamed, and extremely sensitive to the touch. You couldn't even pull a sheet over it when you're in bed and not have like very extreme pain," he added. "It progressed into my ankle, making it impossible to walk at times. I even used a crutch for a week."

Fratto has gout, and younger and younger people are being diagnosed with it.

"I'm seeing a fair amount of gout in people who are 30s, 40s, and 50s I'd say over the last three to four years, than for example, when I was training – most of the gout was in 60s, 70s, 80-year-old patients," said arthritis specialist Dr. Fotios Koumpouras.

With gout, uric acid builds up in the joints and forms crystals. These cause pain and swelling, typically in the big toe.

"Gout is one of the most painful arthritis conditions known," Dr. Koumpouras said. "Individuals who get multiple attacks of gout lose work, these people have difficulty ambulating. We think diet plays a large role for why younger patients are getting gout."

"Some of the things you shouldn't be doing when you have a gout inflammation I was still doing," Fratto admitted, "like having red meat, and having alcohol."

As obesity rates have grown, so has the number of people with gout.

Gout and obesity are just indicators though that there might be other body system problems, like high cholesterol, diabetes, even kidney failure.

The good news is that gout is treatable.

"Some people will require medication on a daily basis to manage their gout," said Dr. Koumpouras.

"I went on a prescription pill, and it lowered my uric acid. It took a couple months for my active attack to subside, but now I'm in good shape," said Fratto.

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