What is gout?

Gout is a common form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a substance in the blood that is produced by the breakdown of waste products called purines. If excessive uric acid is produced by the body or if uric acid is not eliminated effectively by the kidneys, it can form deposits of crystals in the joints.

Uric acid crystals can cause intense and sudden inflammation, pain, redness, stiffness and burning in and around joints that can persist for several weeks. Gout often starts in one of the big toes, but it can also affect the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, heels, and other joint areas.

Gout is most commonly seen in men older than age 40, but it can strike anyone, especially postmenopausal women. Pacific Islanders are far more susceptible to gout compared to other ethnic groups. Gout is not curable, but it can be successfully managed with medical therapy and lifestyle changes. Its symptoms resemble those of several other diseases, disorders and conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis and pseudogout.


Prompt diagnosis and treatment of gout can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications, such as disability. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of gout, such as pain, redness, burning or swelling of a joint.

A serious complication of gout is kidney stones. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have symptoms of a kidney stone, such as severe flank or abdominal pain, which may occur with bloody urine, reduced urination, or the inability to urinate.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of gout?

Gout is a chronic disease that can cause symptoms in acute stages called attacks or flares. The first attack usually occurs at night and is usually limited to one affected joint. Gout flares can last from days to several weeks. Flares can occur regularly for some people, while for others they may occur every few months or even years apart.

Read more about goutsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by a metabolic disorder called hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia is an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced by the breakdown of waste products called purines. Hyperuricemia occurs when there is an overproduction of uric acid by the body or when the kidneys fail to effectively eliminate uric acid through urination. Gout may result as a complication of diure... Read more about goutcauses

TREATMENTS

How is gout treated?

Gout is a chronic disease that cannot be cured, but there are several helpful and widely accepted therapies available. The goals of gout treatment include managing the pain of current flares, lessening the severity and frequency of future flares, and preventing the onset of chronic gout.

Flare pain management

The following medications and therapies are often used to eas... Read more about gouttreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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