Gout is a complex form of arthritis that causes severe, sudden attacks of pain and tenderness in the joint at the base of your big toe. Having too much uric acid in your blood causes gout, and when levels become too high, hard crystals are formed in your joints. While gout first attacks the big toe, it can also attack your heels, knees, ankles or elbows. Physical therapy can relieve the symptoms of this condition and prevent it from recurring. Physical therapy consists of a variety of exercises that reduce symptoms.
Stretching increases flexibility in your body, and a physical therapist will have you engage in moderate exercises to reduce stiffness and increase circulation. Performing simple stretches, such as knee bends, helps relieve tension in the joints and reduce inflammation. Knee bends are done by leaning over, with a slight bend in your knees, and attempting to touch your toes. Some physical therapists recommend performing range-of-motion exercises that are involved in yoga, tai chi and pilates.
A physical therapist will have you begin endurance exercises to improve blood circulation, heart function and relieve symptoms of gout. Because gout often attacks your feet, it's important to engage in low-impact exercises that won't put any additional strain on your lower extremities. Physical therapy will include a swimming or stationary cycling program that can be easily monitored by a therapist. As your condition improves, the exercises will become more strenuous.
Strengthening exercises condition and tone your muscles, which give you healthy and strong joints. Physical therapy involves using light dumbbells to perform simple leg exercises, such as squat and lunges. These exercises promote circulation in your legs and feet and prevent joints from becoming inflamed.
Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, and bend your knees while keeping your back straight. Bend you knees until your hamstrings are parallel with the ground and then slowly stand up.
Lunges are started in the same manner, but instead of bending down take a step forward. While keeping your upper body vertical, lean your front leg forward until your back knee is just off the ground. Take a step back and repeat with the other leg. A physical therapist will recommend the proper weights and repetitions and ensure you are performing the exercises with the correct form.