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Do I Have An Ingrown Nail Or Gout?

Updated: Jul 5

So you're having pain in your big or great toe, and wondering, "Is this Gout, or is this an ingrown nail?" Here are some key differences between the two conditions.

Gout is actually a type of arthritis. Gout happens because the body is unable to get rid of a natural compound that our bodies make, called uric acid properly. This uric acid then forms crystals and eventually deposits in and around joints. Gout pain in the feet normally is seen around the great or 1st toe at the 1st MPJ (metatarsophalangeal joint). As more gout attacks happen, joint pain can be seen in other joints of the foot or even the ankle.

The joint where gout attacks commonly happen in the foot is the 1st MPJ (Metatarsophalangeal Joint) of the big toe

The key symptom of gout is pain. Pain around the affected joint. And the pain that can radiate. This pain can be extreme in nature. Patients of mine that have had gout attacks say that the pain in their toe is so bad, that just bedsheets covering their foot is painful. Swelling and possibly redness are other symptoms of gout. Because gout is a type of arthritis, changes to your bones and joint can be seen by x-ray. The most definitive way to diagnose gout would be through a minor procedure called joint aspiration.

In joint aspiration, the patient would be given some numbing medication and a needle is injected into the joint in question. Fluid is taken from the joint and sent to a lab. If uric acid crystals are seen under a microscope then we know for certain that you have gout.

On the other hand, an ingrown nail typically has pain that starts at the sides or corner of the toe. Ingrown nails commonly affect your big toenail, but they at times can happen in your small toenails as well. Symptoms of an ingrown nail include pain, redness, or swelling. The skin around the ingrown nail if infected can start to drain pus. In cases of severe infection, you can start to experience fever or chills. At times you will also be able to see the nail actually growing into the skin. To learn more about ingrown toenails, click the link here that will lead you to another blog post I wrote all about ingrown nails:

Whether you are concerned about Gout or an Ingrown nail, a Podiatrist or foot doctor can diagnose and treat either problem. If you would like to book an appointment with me at Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe, AZ click the following link to view appointment dates and times:

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About the author

Dr. Sondema N. Tarr, DPM - Board Certified Podiatrist

Hello everyone! My name is Dr. Tarr. I am a foot doctor and also the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona. To learn more about me, and the practice click below. 

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