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Can Vaccines Contribute To Gout Flares?

I received an inquiry recently on my website from someone suffering from debilitating pain in the right great toe that he feels stemmed from a recent shingles vaccine. This person first noticed swelling and discomfort nine days after the second dose of the vaccine. Despite rest, ice and ibuprofen, the person said his pain worsened significantly over the course of a week and even interfered with his sleep. He says the range of motion in the toe is intact but notes that pressure of any kind causes burning, radiating pain. 

He recalled no trauma or change in his exercise regimen, and is puzzled by the correlation with the vaccine along with the sudden onset of symptoms. While awaiting a scheduled appointment with a podiatrist, he wondered if I had seen such reactions in others. 

Actually, I have. I am seeing a lot of symptoms similar to these after patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of which dose or brand. I treat these instances like a gout attack, which it may be. Gout attacks occur due to changes in metabolism that in my experience can occur dramatically with vaccine administration. 

When I see cases like this In my office, I start with an initial X-ray although this is usually inconclusive. I recommend these patients aggressively hydrate for five days, drinking at least four, but up to eight, eight-ounce glasses of water minimum each day. Additionally, 600 mg of ibuprofen four times daily for five days is helpful in my experience treating possible gout attacks I also importantly recommend a 10-minute ice soak (cold water with ice cubes) of the affected area three times daily. Additionally, applying a dancer’s pad to float the great toe joint in a removable cast boot allows the patient to get around. 

If the patient does not feel significantly better within about a week, I order serum uric acid levels and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging may help rule out a sesamoid stress fracture or some joint pathology. 

The first five patients I have seen who presented with these symptoms post-COVID-19 vaccine immediately got better with the aforementioned treatment approach. The sixth patient is awaiting X-rays, uric acid levels, MRI and probably a corticosteroid injection. 

Dr. Blake is in practice at the Center for Sports Medicine, which is affiliated with St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. He is a past president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. Dr. Blake is the author of the recently published book, “The Inverted Orthotic Technique: A Process Of Foot Stabilization For Pronated Feet,” which is available at www.bookbaby.com

Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared at www.drblakeshealingsole.com. It is adapted with permission from the author.

Comments

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Hello, I am a 42 year old woman. I consider myself pretty health. I'm 5'10, 140 pounds, pescatarian, exercise everyday, don't drink alcohol that much ... 2 days after my first Covid vaccine I woke up in the middle night with the most severe pain in my foot, right below the big toe. It was unbelievable. I hadn't done anything out the ordinary. The next day, it got so bad that I went to urgent care. I am never one to really even visit a doctor, but this was so out of left field and painful, it had me really worried. The only thing I could find online that remotely described this was Gout. But, I thought there was no way, considering my lifestyle didn't match any of the typical gout sufferers. Urgent Care did an xray, nothing out of the ordinary. They wanted to do a blood test to see if was gout. Because of insurance and finances I declined. At this point, I knew that if it was gout, that I would need to suffer a few days and really cleanse my system with water, alkaline juices and foods. I did mention to the doctor that I did just get my vaccine and she just shrugged it off. But ... prior to the doctor coming in, the nurse disclosed that another younger woman had been in the day before with the exact same issue, he mentioned they also thought it was gout .. but he stopped there and wouldn't say anything else.

I hobbled home, they gave me a prescription for a stronger anti inflammatory that barely dulled the pain. Iced it a ton, drank a lot of water, tart cherry juice, and started taking celery root extract. Also avoided any salt, and any acidic activating foods - just all stuff I read online. Over the next few days it got better. Day 4 it was 95% fine.

I found out that my mom had a gout flare up (her only one) when she was 52. She is fairly healthy and active also.

So, I was glad to have found your article, because I can't help but think that perhaps the vaccine triggered this flare up. Maybe I am hereditarily prone to higher levels of Uric Acid and the vaccine just did something? I don't regret getting the vaccine at all, my next one is in 2 weeks and I'm being really careful leading up to it. I don't take any medication and the last time I had a vaccine was probably as a child, so I don't have a lot of reference of my bodies reaction to vaccines or medications.

Anyway, I thought I would stop by to tell my story, in case this has happened to anyone else, it would be great to at least be able to make some kind of connection.

Thanks again for the article.

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Could be a coincidence, about a week after my covid vaccine I started having severe pain in my right big toe. I went to urgent care and had xrays which were perfectly normal. I am waiting on blood work but the Dr had mentioned it was probably Gout. I am a 38 yr old male and I have always been a somewhat healthy individual and have never had Gout before. I don't smoke, drink, and stay away from red meat (all the usual triggers I am told). The only thing I can think of is maybe the vaccine triggered this flare up? Interesting to hear others with similar stories.

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My husband woke up 3 days after his second Moderna shot with a swollen and painful ankle. He is 38 and healthy. He is on a keto diet so he does eat a lot of red meat but he stays very hydrated and doesn't consume alcohol. He has never experienced gout before but his grandpa had it and nothing else explains his symptoms; it is now a week since his symptoms developed and he still can't walk on it.

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