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Gout Signs & Symptoms

Hyperuricemia (elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream) causes persistent spells of arthritis, a medical condition known as gout. The superfluous uric acid crystallizes in the bloodstream and deposits in joints, tendons and surrounding tissue. One or more joints become painfully inflamed, hot, tender and reddened. About 50% of all diagnosed cases of gout involve the metatarsal-phalangeal joint of the big toe, a type of gout known as podagra.

Historically known as the “rich man’s disease”, gout affects about one to two percent of the Western European and North American populations. Although gout usually affects the joint of the big toe as well as the surrounding tendons and tissue, joints of the knees, heels, fingers and wrists can also become inflamed and arthritic. Acute cases of gout are painful and typically affect one joint in particular, usually that of the big toe. Chronic cases present as continuous pain and arthritic swelling that may involve more than one joint.

In the nighttime, the human body experiences lower body temperatures, and for gout patients this causes more joint pain. Pain is usually more tolerable during the daytime because of higher body temperatures. More common in males and alcohol drinkers, gout pain may atypically be accompanied by a high fever and fatigue.

When there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream and the body is unable to expel it as needed, the excessive uric acid forms crystal deposits. These crystals may dwell in the synovial fluid of joints and cause the arthritic inflammation and pain of gout. Gout can also be present alongside tophi (deposit of monosodium urate crystals), urate nephropathy (speedily declining kidney function) and kidney stones (crystal formed in the kidney from uric acid/dietary bi-products in urine), all of which are conditions caused by urate crystal formation from the underlying hyperuricemia. Tophi crystals develop under the skin by a joint and usually only develop after many years of gout.

The following can cause hyperuricemia:

  • Dietary habits
  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Renal underexcretion of uric acid
  • Overproduction of uric acid

About 10% of patients with hyperuricemia develop gout. The risk of hyperuricemia patients developing gout is as follows:

  • When uric acid levels are between 415 and 530 μmol/L (7 and 8.9 mg/dL), the risk of developing gout is 0.5% a year
  • When uric acid levels are higher than 535 μmol/L (9 mg/dL), the risk of developing gout is 4.5% a year

The following are symptoms of gout:

  • Swollen joint(s)
  • Throbbing joint(s)
  • Severe pain in joint(s)
  • Crushing feeling in joint(s)
  • Joint redness
  • Joint warmth
  • Joint tenderness
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Gout may develop in people with the following medical conditions:

  • Obesity
  • Leukemia
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Kidney disease

If you have gout, contact your health care provider to plan the most appropriate course of treatment for your gout. There are medications and therapies available to treat this disease and ease your pain and swelling.