Gout causes joints to swell and feel painful. People with gout typically have flare-ups that last 1-2 weeks and resolve. The big toe is the most commonly affected joint. If you aren’t familiar with gout, you may misidentify the signs and symptoms.
At Valerius Medical Group & Research Center, our highly skilled rheumatologists Nathaniel Neal, MD, and Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, routinely evaluate, diagnose, and treat gout, characterized by recurrent attacks of joint inflammation and pain. In this blog, they discuss what causes gout and what the symptoms are.
When your body breaks down purines — which is a compound found in food and beverages — the result is a waste called uric acid. If your kidneys don’t eliminate uric acid efficiently, it can build up in your body. If there’s too much uric acid in your body, it can form into crystals around a joint — usually a joint in a lower limb — thus resulting in gout.
These sharp crystals can cause intense, stabbing pain. The pain can be so intense that it can even wake you up from a deep sleep. Making lifestyle changes and getting treatment can help reduce symptoms and the number of flare-ups. Keep in mind that not everyone with high uric acid levels has gout.
Anyone can develop gout. However, you may increase your chance of getting it due to the following factors:
Gout flare-ups are often unpredictable and can last a few days or a couple of weeks. After a flare-up, you may not have symptoms for weeks or months. The following are the five most common symptoms of gout:
Excruciating pain in the affected joint is by far the most common symptom of gout. Flare-ups can occur suddenly, and they often happen at night. Patients with gout often describe the pain as stabbing, needle-like pain that radiates from the affected joint.
Gout can cause inflammation in and around the affected joint. You may notice significant swelling. If gout affects your big toe, you may have trouble walking or fitting into your shoes without pain during a flare-up.
The affected joint may appear red and feel tender.
The affected joint may feel very warm to the touch.
Swelling and tenderness may make it difficult for you to move the joints affected by gout. The big toe is often the most affected joint. Other joints that are commonly affected by gout include the knees, elbows, fingers, and wrists.
While gout can be extremely painful, it is a very treatable condition. Some ways the condition can be treated include reducing your intake of high purine foods — such as seafood, shellfish, and organ meats — taking medication to lower your uric acid levels, and taking anti-inflammatory medication.
If you have gout and want expert treatment, or if you want to see if you have the condition, book an appointment online or over the phone with Valerius Medical Group & Research Center today.