Font Size
A
A
A

Gout (cont.)

Gout Symptoms and Signs

The first symptom of gouty arthritis is typically the sudden onset of a hot, red, swollen joint. The most common joint involved is at the base of the big toe where swelling can be associated with severe tenderness, but almost any joint can be involved (for example, knee, ankle, and small joints of the hands). In some people, the acute pain is so intense that even a bed sheet on the toe causes severe pain. Acute gouty arthritis at the base of the big toe is referred to as podagra.

Even without treatment, the first attacks stop spontaneously after one to two weeks. While the pain and swelling completely go away, gouty arthritis commonly returns in the same joint or in another joint.

With time, attacks of gouty arthritis can occur more frequently and may last longer. While the first attacks usually involve only one or two joints, multiple joints can be involved simultaneously over time. It is important to note that unrecognizable (subclinical), potentially damaging inflammation in joints can occur between attacks of obvious flares of gouty arthritis.

Kidney stones are more frequent in people with gout.

Uric acid crystals can form outside joints. Collections of these crystals, known as tophi, can be found in the earlobe, elbow, and Achilles tendon (back of the ankle), or in other tissues. Typically, these tophi are not painful but can be a valuable clue for the diagnosis as the crystals that form them can be removed with a small needle for microscopic examination. Microscopic evaluation of a tophus reveals a nest-like accumulation of uric acid crystals embedded with white blood cells of inflammation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2014

Must Read Articles Related to Gout

Alcoholism
Alcoholism Alcohol problems vary in severity from mild to life threatening and affect the individual, the person's family, and society in numerous adverse ways. Despite al...learn more >>
Arthritis
Arthritis Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Causes include injury, abnormal metabolism (such as gout), inheritance (such as in osteoarthritis), infections (such as...learn more >>
Dehydration (Adults)
Dehydration in Adults Dehydration occurs when the loss of body fluids (mostly water), exceeds the amount that is taken in. Causes of dehydration include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, di...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Gout:

Gout - Treatment

What was the treatment for your gout?

Gout - Experience

Please describe your experience with gout.

Gout - Symptoms

For gout, what were the symptoms and signs you experienced?

Gout - Diet

How did you change your diet upon your diagnosis of gout?




Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gout »

Gout is a common disorder of uric acid metabolism that can lead to deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in soft tissue, recurrent episodes of debilitating joint inflammation, and, if untreated, joint destruction and renal damage.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary