Gout (Gouty Arthritis) (cont.)

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How is gout diagnosed?

The most reliable method to diagnose gout is by demonstrating uric acid crystals in joint fluid that has been removed from an inflamed joint. Specially trained physicians, such as a rheumatologist or orthopedist, can carefully remove fluid from the joint. A doctor with expertise in gout can then examine the fluid under a microscope to determine if uric acid crystals are present. This is important because other diseases, such as pseudogout (a type of arthritis caused by the deposition of calcium pyrophosphate crystals) and infection, can have symptoms similar to gout.

When should gout be treated?

Changes in lifestyle, such as limiting foods associated with gout, should be initiated in anyone who has had a gouty attack in the past. Treatment of gout with medications is necessary when frequent disabling gouty attacks occur, when kidney stones caused by uric acid are present, when there is evidence of joint damage from gout on X-rays, or when tophi are present. Treatment should be individualized to the patient.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/3/2013

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