A Doctor's View on Gout Symptoms
Read the Comment by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Due to the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, the primary symptom of gout is pain in the:
- elbows, and
- big toe.
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,
- 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 affected area.
Gout frequently affects joints in the lower extremities. The most typical location for gout to occur is the big toe. Podagra is the medical term for a gout attack in 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.
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 significantly overloaded with uric acid. When tophi are present, the uric acid level in the bloodstream has been high for years. The presence of tophi indicates tophaceous gout, and treatment with medications is necessary.
Kidney stones may be a sign of gout as uric acid crystals can deposit in the kidney and cause kidney stones.