Gout

Overview

Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, frequently at the base of the big toe. When an attack of gout occurs, the pain can be so severe requiring a trip to the emergency room for relief.

Causes

Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing inflammation and a severe attack of intense pain. Urate crystals can form when you reach high levels of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid normally dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys into your urine. However, sometimes your body can either produce too much uric acid or your kidneys can excrete too little uric acid. In either case, uric acid builds up, forming sharp, needle-like urate crystals in a joint or surrounding tissue causing pain, inflammation and swelling.

Symptoms

In most cases, the signs and symptoms of gout are acute, occurring suddenly, and mostly at night, without warning. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden and severe attacks of pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Stiffness and swelling of affected joints

Treatment

Gout treatments focus on easing the pain associated with gout attacks, prevent future attacks, and reduce risks of long-term damage to affected joints. Through proper monitoring and treatment, patients can avoid gout flare ups and also prevent long-term joint damage.