Gout (Gouty Arthritis)
Table of Contents
- Gout facts
- What is gout?
- What causes gout?
- What are risk factors for gout?
- What are gout symptoms and signs?
- What types of doctors treat gout?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose gout?
- When should gout be treated?
- Are there treatments and home remedies for gout?
- Do gout medications have any side effects?
- What foods should people with gout avoid?
- What complications are associated with gout?
- What is the prognosis of gout?
- Is it possible to prevent gout?
- What research is being done on gout?
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, and
- 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 inflamed joint. The affected joint becomes swollen. The medical term for excessive fluid in a joint is a "joint effusion."
Gout frequently involves joints in the lower extremities. The classic location for gout to occur is the big toe. Podagra is the medical term for inflammation at the base of 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. This causes pain and joint stiffness in multiple joints.
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 substantially overloaded with uric acid. When tophi are present, the uric acid level in the bloodstream typically has been high for years. The presence of tophi indicates tophaceous gout and treatment with medications is necessary.
Longstanding untreated gout can lead to joint damage and physical deformity.