Gout pain can be intense and feel like fire in the joints. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes severe pain, swelling, and redness in the joints. While it can affect any joint, it most commonly affects joints in the toes (usually the big toe), feet, knees, and elbows.
Symptoms of a gout attack generally reach their maximum intensity 12-24 hours after they start and then slowly subside on their own. Without treatment, you can expect to recover within 7-14 days.
What is chronic tophaceous gout?
Some people experience gout only in the form of attacks or episodes. These attacks can occur 1-2 times a year or throughout their entire lifetime. In between the attacks, they may have no symptoms at all.
Chronic gout is characterized by recurrent attacks that are accompanied by mild symptoms even between attacks. During the interval between attacks, you may experience pain and other symptoms that are then exacerbated during an attack.
Chronic gout often results in hard deposits or bumps of uric acid crystals under the skin. These hard deposits are referred to as tophi, which are painless but cause inflammation that contributes to bone and cartilage destruction. The condition is called chronic tophaceous gout.
Tophi typically occur around joints in the olecranon bursa, hands, feet, or at the pinna of the ear. Tophi are not always permanent and can be dissolved with treatment.
Can you have high blood uric acid levels but no gout symptoms?
Gout typically causes high uric acid levels in your blood, a condition called hyperuricemia. However, in some cases you may have high uric acid levels in your blood without developing symptoms of gout. This is called asymptomatic hyperuricemia.
Even if you have asymptomatic hyperuricemia and are at increased risk of developing gout, doctors typically do not recommend treatment during this period. They may, however, suggest lifestyle changes such as exercise, a healthy diet, and limiting alcohol to help lower uric acid levels. If you have asymptomatic hyperuricemia, your doctor will conduct tests to rule out other causes.
Hyperuricemia does not always lead to gout attacks. You may have normal uric acid levels in your blood during an attack.
How is gout diagnosed?
If you are experiencing gout pain, seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to avoid worsening the condition.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and other relevant medical history and perform a physical examination. To confirm a diagnosis, they will order blood tests, including a serum uric acid test that measures your uric acid level. Other tests include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) factor test: RA factor test is a blood test that is used to confirm a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Many times, gout symptoms resemble RA symptoms, especially during the interval between the attacks of chronic gout. Therefore, your doctor may order this test to determine whether the symptoms are due to RA.
- X-ray: Your doctor will order an X-ray to rule out other conditions that resemble gout, such as chondrocalcinosis (a buildup of calcium crystals in the joints) or other forms of arthritis. If you have chronic gout, your doctor may order an X-ray to check whether the condition has damaged joint cartilage and bones.
- Ultrasound scan: An ultrasound scan of an affected joint can detect uric acid crystals, which may not be detected by physical examination.
- Joint fluid analysis or test: If your doctor wants to rule out septic arthritis, which is an infection of the joints, they may draw fluid from the affected joint and send it for lab analysis.
How is gout treated?
Your doctor may suggest dietary changes that involve avoiding foods that contain purines, which are naturally occurring substances that form uric acid in the body.
Medications may be prescribed, which you can take during gout attacks to alleviate the inflammation and pain:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
- To prevent gout attacks and deposition of tophi in the joints, your doctor may prescribe medications that help reduce the uric acid level in your blood:
Can lifestyle changes help relieve gout pain?
Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the recurrence of gout attacks:
- Avoiding foods with high levels of purines
- Red meat
- Organ meat
- Fatty fish, such as cod and salmon
- Foods containing yeast extract
- Avoiding sugary drinks, such as sodas and sweetened fruit juices
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol intake (beer and spirits)
- Drinking enough water to prevent dehydration, which promotes tophi formation
- Keeping weight under control
- Staying away from crash diets or high-protein low-carb diets
- Staying physically active and performing exercises that avoid strain on the joints
- CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Illness on U.S. Gulf Coast
- Helping Others as Volunteers Helps Kids 'Flourish': Study
- FDA Approves Pfizer's RSV Shot for Older Adults
- What to Do When Tough-to-Treat Lymphoma Strikes During Pregnancy
- Rate of Pregnant U.S. Women Who Have Diabetes Keeps Rising
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Rothschild BM. Gout and Pseudogout. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/329958-overview
Top What Does Gout Pain Feel Like Related Articles
goldenrodGoldenrod is believed to have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, analgesic, antispasmodic, antihypertensive, antitumor and antidiabetic properties. Suggested uses of goldenrod include diuretic, irrigation therapy, prostate enlargement, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, eczema, minor wounds, gout, arthritis, diabetes, hemorrhoids, and others. Avoid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Side effects may include heartburn, allergic reactions, and allergic contact dermatitis.
GoutBuildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Gout Diet Foods MenuWhether you get gout can depend on your diet. Some foods like red meat, alcohol, and high-fructose corn syrup in sodas can raise your risks. But other foods can reduce gout attacks. Limiting foods that cause gout in your diet can protect you from this painful joint condition, a type of arthritis.
Gout PictureCondition characterized by abnormally elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, recurring attacks of joint inflammation (arthritis), deposits of hard lumps of uric acid in and around the joints, and decreased kidney function and kidney stones. See a picture of Gout and learn more about the health topic.
Gout SlideshowGout attacks (gouty arthritis) are caused by crystals of uric acid deposits. Learn about symptoms, causes, treatments and medication for this painful condition.
Gout QuizLearn what causes those painful crystals to form during a gout flare. Take the Gout Quiz to learn all about this painful arthritic condition.
How Do You Get Rid of Gout Pain Fast?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your gout symptoms and speed up your recovery.
phenylbutazone (Butazolidine)Phenylbutazone is no longer available in the United States. It is, however, prescribed to treat inflammation and pain that results from ankylosing spondylitits, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and osteoarthritis. The most common side effects of phenylbutazone involve the gastrointestinal system. Other important side effects include ulcerations, abdominal burning, pain, cramping, nausea, gastritis, serious gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver toxicity. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Foods Cause Gout?What is gout? Learn the signs of gout and what to do if you think you have it.
What Foods Get Rid of Gout?A gout diet may help decrease uric acid levels in the blood. A gout diet isn't a cure. But it may lower the risk of recurring gout attacks and slow the progression of joint damage.
What Happens if Uric Acid Is High?A high uric acid level may occur when your kidneys don't eliminate uric acid efficiently and may result in the following health issues.
What Is the Best Thing to Drink If You Have Gout?Here are 8 ideal drink options for people with gout, which include drinking more water, coffee, low-fat milk, wine, and green tea.
What Is the Best Treatment for Arthritis?Arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints. It presents as pain and swelling of the joints in the body. Painkillers, along with physical therapy, is usually considered the best treatment for arthritis in the early stages. Natural remedies and medications may also be used to treat arthritis, while surgery for arthritis is an option when a patient can't resume normal activities.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Gout?Gout is a common and complex type of arthritis that can affect anyone, but it is most commonly observed in men. It's characterized by sudden flares of joint pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints, often at the base of the big toe. Gout symptoms may come and go, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flares.