Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a build up of crystals in a joint. It most often affects the joint of the big toe, but can but it can affect other joints as well. Gout may occur in a single attack or become a recurrent problem. During acute attacks, gout can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected joint. Periods between acute attacks are usually symptom-free.
Gout can also create a collection of crystals under the skin called tophi. The tophi are visible lumps under the skin that can show up anywhere in the body and become tender during acute attacks.
Over time, gout can cause permanent damage to the affected joints and the kidneys. Fortunately, these long term factors are less likely to occur with proper treatment. The earlier gout is detected and treated, the better it can be managed.
Acute gout (gout attack):
Chronic tophaceous gout:
Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in and around a joint. Crystals often form because of high levels of uric acid in the blood.
Uric acid is created in the liver and released into the blood during the breakdown of a substance in food called purines. The uric acid is then filtered out of the blood through the kidneys and passes out of the body through urine. Higher than normal levels of uric acid in the blood may be caused by:
Gout. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Gout. Updated April 2015. Accessed February 24, 2017.
Gout. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115215/Gout. Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed February 24, 2017.
Gout. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/default.asp. Updated April 2016. Accessed February 24, 2017.
What is gout? Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/what-is-gout.php. Accessed February 24, 2017.
Last reviewed February 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.