Characteristic gout symptoms are joint pain and swelling. Typically a single joint is affected although in severe cases multiple joints, the kidneys, bones, and tendons may be affected.
Gout is a condition in which the level of uric acid is not well controlled in the blood and not excreted into the urine adequately by the kidneys. Uric acid is produced by the body from normal turnover of cells and also from a specific molecule in foods following digestion.
It typically occurs in acute attacks, which may increase gradually in frequency, but may also develop into a chronic disorder.
Males are more likely than females to suffer from gout and it is more likely to occur later in life (beyond 40 years of age). It commonly affects the feet, particularly the big toe.
- joint pain (sometimes severe, common at night)
- joint inflammation
- joint swelling
- joint warmth
- increased heart rate
- restricted range of motion of joint
- formation of hard masses (tophi) under the skin on the ear, around joints, near the Achilles tendon, or around elbows
- kidney stones
Diagnosis is typically through physical examination and observation of its characteristic symptoms. Diagnosis can be confirmed with laboratory blood testing and biopsy of joint tissue or fluid.
Treatment is typically first aimed at pain relief and control of joint swelling, commonly with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Secondary treatment aims to prevent recurrence of further attacks. Diet changes, exercise, weight control and drug therapy are typically effective in reducing or eliminating further acute attacks of gout.
Controlling the severity or frequency of gout attacks is important in order to limit the degree of further damage to joints and ligaments.