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What to know about gout in the heel

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Gout in the heel can cause symptoms such as pain and swelling. Lifestyle strategies in combination with urate-lowering therapies can reduce pain and inflammation and increase joint health.
Medically reviewed by Adam Hotchkiss, DPM
Written by Gina Vaughan
Updated on

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. If gout affects your heel, it may make it difficult to walk, run, or be active. You may notice your heel is red, swollen, or painful to touch.

Gout is caused by an increase in uric acid or creatinine in your blood. It can affect any joint, but it typically affects the joints furthest away from your heart. This includes joints like toes, ankles, knees, fingers, and hands.

Even though the heel is not the most common place to experience gout, it can make daily activities very painful and difficult.

What are the symptoms of gout in the heel?

A medical professional is examining a person's foot.
Photography by SDI Productions/Stocksy United

Symptoms of gout in the heel can include:

  • pain
  • redness or discoloration
  • a joint that feels hot
  • swelling

Gout pain typically affects one joint at a time and it may feel intense. Symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks.

What causes gout in the heel?

A buildup of uric acid in the blood causes gout in the heel. This can happen if you produce too much uric acid or if the kidneys are unable to filter enough uric acid. Crystals can then form around the joints, causing symptoms of gout.

There are certain factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing gout. These include:

  • kidney problems
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • family history of gout
  • consuming a diet high in red meat, offal, or seafood
  • consuming excess amounts of beer or spirits

It is best to contact a doctor if you have concerns about the risk factors of gout.

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What are the treatments for gout in the heel?

While there is no cure for gout, several treatment options can reduce the number of flare-ups and shorten their duration. Your doctor may prescribe medication and lifestyle strategies to improve your overall health and reduce your symptoms.

Urate-lowering therapies

Urate-lowering therapy (ULT) medications help manage hyperuricemia, or high uric acid in the blood, in order to reduce the incidence of gout.

Examples of oral ULT medications include:

  • allopurinol (Zyloprim)
  • febuxostat (Uloric)
  • pegloticase (Krystexxa)
  • anakinra (Kineret)
  • canakinumab (Ilaris)

Allopurinol is the main urate-lowering treatment. A doctor may recommend other oral ULT medications if you do not respond well to it.

Anakin and canakinumab are injectable ULT medications. They may be suitable if oral treatments are not effective.

If you need help covering the cost of medications, Optum Perks’ free Discount Card could help you get up to 80% off prescription drugs. See how much you can save on your medication here.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be suitable during flare-ups to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint.

Some NSAIDs are available over the counter. These include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).  

A doctor may prescribe stronger NSAIDs, such as indomethacin (Indocin, Tivorbex) and sulindac (Clinoril).

Dietary changes

According to a 2022 study, obesity may play a prominent role in hyperuricemia. Maintaining a moderate weight and consuming a low fat diet may help reduce gout.

The Arthritis Foundation also recommends consuming:

  • at least 8 glasses of water per day, or up to 16 glasses during a flare
  • low fat milk and other low fat dairy products
  • fruits high in vitamin C but low in fructose, such as:
    • strawberries
    • oranges
    • pineapples
    • grapefruit
  • vegetable proteins, such as:
    • leafy greens
    • lentils
    • tofu
    • peas
    • beans

It may be beneficial to avoid consuming large quantities of the following:

  • beer, as it has a high purine content, which the body converts into uric acid
  • other alcoholic drinks, as they can slow down the excretion of uric acid in urine
  • drinks containing fructose corn syrup, such as soda and fruit juice
  • organ meats and other red meats, such as beef, bison, and venison
  • certain seafood, such as mussels, shrimp, and lobster

Physical activity

Getting enough regular physical activity can help treat joint damage associated with gout.

Exercise is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week.

If gout in your heel is making it difficult to walk or stand, try an alternative exercise such as swimming.

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What are the possible complications of gout on the heels?

Gout occurs when there is an increased level of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals inside joints. When there is a buildup of these crystals, it causes inflammation and joint damage.

Over time, these cells can deteriorate and die, and it may lead to arthritic damage without treatment. This can subsequently cause difficulties with mobility, the ability to wear some shoes, and a reduced activity level.

Beginning treatment as early as possible may help reduce the risk of complications.

Is it possible to prevent gout in the heel?

There are various steps a person can take to reduce the risk of developing gout.

Protect your joints

Injuries can make gout worse. The CDC recommends trying activities that are typically easier on your joints, like biking, walking, or swimming.

These do not put as much pressure on your joints and can reduce your chance of injury.

Maintain a moderate weight

Maintaining a moderate weight can reduce pressure and strain on your joints. It may also help slow the progression of the condition, ease pain, and improve overall function.

Contact your doctor

Contact your doctor if you have concerns about the risk factors for gout or if you have a family history of the condition.

If you have a family history of gout, a blood test can help determine if your uric acid levels are elevated.

Your doctor can also advise on more ways to prevent gout or manage a flare-up of symptoms.


Gout in the heel happens when uric acid builds up in the blood and crystals form around the joint. This can result in symptoms such as pain and swelling.

There are various ways to alleviate symptoms and reduce flare-ups. These include taking medication, maintaining a moderate weight, and making dietary changes, if necessary.

It is best to contact a doctor for advice if you have concerns about gout. Your doctor will be able to order tests to confirm the diagnosis and help you create a suitable treatment plan.

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