What causes toe joint swelling?
My father has toe joint pain and swelling for 3 months. He is 70, with a regular intake of alcohol and meat. He is not overweight, and he cycles every day (but recently the pain is incapacitating him). His GP told him to take an X-Ray, but he has been refusing due to radiation concerns as well as cost. We are worried that his toe pain may continue to worsen over time, perhaps leading to toe joint damage if the root cause of the symptom has been left unaddressed. What could cause toe joint swelling, and how can we persuade him to seek treatment? Which specialist treats this sort of joint pains?
From the provided description, it sounds like gout, although there are of course other causes of toe joint swelling. This includes arthritis, infection, or an injury.
Here are some quick facts about gout:
- Gout is caused by uric acid crystals built up in the joints, and most commonly affects the big toe, causing swelling and pain
- A diet rich in alcohol and meat can increase the risks of gout
- Treatment involves medication to reduce pain and swelling, and to reduce the uric acid levels
The symptoms of gout tend to be progressive and will worsen over time if left untreated.
In Singapore, rheumatologists and GPs treat and manage gout cases regularly.
The best way to get your dad to seek help is probably to have a doctor he trusts (such as your family doctor) take time to explain more about the disease, and to reassure him about his concerns.
For example, the doctor can explain to your dad that gout is very common, and easily treatable. There are also minimal radiation risks from a foot X-Ray.
It's also helpful if you read more about the disease yourself, so that you can explain it to him, because he is likely to trust your advice.