By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A growing number of younger people are being diagnosed with gout, a painful foot condition that usually strikes older people. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with more.
It's described as sudden excruciating pain that often strikes at night. Gout is a painful form of arthritis. Now, increasing numbers of younger people are suffering with gout, and doctors want to get the word out.
At 40, Bob Fratto thought he sprained his foot.
"It started out as a small pain in my big toe. It progressed into my ankle, making it impossible to walk at times. I even used a crutch for a week," said Bob.
Doctors finally diagnosed gout, a painful problem for a growing number of younger people. Experts aren't sure why.
"I'm seeing a fair amount of gout in people who are 30's, 40's and 50's. I'd say over the last three to four years, [rather] than for example, when I was training most of the gout was in 60's, 70's, 80 year old patients," said Dr. Fotious Koupouras, an Arthritis Specialist.
With gout, something called 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. 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," said Dr. Koupouras.
"Some of the things you shouldn't be doing when you have a gout inflammation, I was still doing, like having red meat, and having alcohol," said Bob.
Other risk factors for gout include high cholesterol, blood pressure and having diabetes.
Fortunately gout is treatable, mainly with medications.
"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 Bob.
Gout usually strikes men. Women are at an increased risk after menopause. Doctors also say it tends to run in families.
For more info on gout, visit: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001459/ and http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gout.html
for more features.