Gout (Gouty Arthritis)

  • Medical Author:
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideGout Attack Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Diet

Gout Attack Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Diet

What are gout symptoms and signs?

The characteristic symptoms and signs of gout are

  • sudden onset of joint pain,
  • joint swelling,
  • heat in the affected area, and
  • joint redness.

This usually affects a single joint. The pain is typically severe, reflecting the severity of inflammation in the joint. The affected joint is often very sensitive to touch to the point that some people with gout attacks experience pain from something as simple as pulling the bedsheets over the inflamed joint. The affected joint becomes swollen. The medical term for excessive fluid in a joint is a "joint effusion."

Gout frequently involves joints in the lower extremities. The classic location for gout to occur is the big toe. Podagra is the medical term for inflammation at the base of the big toe. Gout can also affect the foot, knee, ankle, elbow, wrist, hands, or nearly any joint in the body. When gout is more severe or longstanding, multiple joints may be affected at the same time. This causes pain and joint stiffness in multiple joints.

Another sign of gout is the presence of tophi. A tophus is a hard nodule of uric acid that deposits under the skin. Tophi can be found in various locations in the body, commonly on the elbows, upper ear cartilage, and on the surface of other joints. When a tophus is present, it indicates that the body is substantially overloaded with uric acid. When tophi are present, the uric acid level in the bloodstream typically has been high for years. The presence of tophi indicates tophaceous gout and treatment with medications is necessary.

Longstanding untreated gout can lead to joint damage and physical deformity.

Kidney stones may be a sign of gout as uric acid crystals can deposit in the kidney and cause kidney stones.

Reviewed on 6/6/2016
References
REFERENCE:

Firestein, G.S., et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier, 2008. IMAGES:

1.MedicineNet

2.iStock

3.MedicineNet

4.Getty Image

5.Getty Images/Hemera

6.iStock

7.iStock

8.iStock

9.Getty Image

10.iStock

11.iStock

12.MedicineNet

13.iStock

14.Getty Images

15.iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Arthritis Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors