- Gout is a complex and common form of Arthritis that can affect anyone.
- Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of swelling, redness, pain, and tenderness in one or more than one joint, usually in the big toe.
- The attack of Gout can occur suddenly, often waking a patient up in the middle of the night with the sensation that the big toe is on fire.
- Attacks of Gout can come on quickly and keep returning over time, slowly harming tissues in the region of the inflammation and can be extremely painful.
- Hypertension, Obesity, and Cardiovascular are the risk factors for Gout.
- The affected joint is swollen, hot, and so tender that even the weight of the bedsheet on it may seem intolerable.
- Symptoms of Gout may come and go, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flares.
- If Gout is not treated on time, it can create hard lumps called Tophi that can eventually develop in the joints, skin, and soft tissue surrounding them. These deposits can permanently damage the joints.
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The signs and symptoms of Gout usually occur suddenly without warning, often in the middle of the night.
Asymptomatic Gout shows much uric acid in the blood of the patient but no symptoms.
The main symptoms of Gout may include:
- Lingering Discomfort: When the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. Succeeding attacks are likely to last longer and affect more joints.
- Intense Joint Pain: Gout usually attacks the big toe, but it can occur in any joint. Other commonly affected joints include the Forefoot, Knees, Ankles, Elbows, Fingers, and Wrist. The pain is likely to be most severe within the first 4 to 12 hours after it begins.
- Inflammation and Redness: The affected joint or joints become tender, swollen, warm, and red.
- Limited Range of Motion. As Gout progresses, the patient may not be able to move the joints normally.
Doctors can usually diagnose Gout on the basis of the patient’s symptoms and the appearance of the affected joint.
The doctor will likely base the diagnosis on:
- The description of the joint pain
- How often the patient has experienced intense pain in the joint
- How red or swollen the area is
Tests to help diagnose Gout may include:
- Joint Fluid Test: The doctor may use a needle to draw fluid from the affected joint. Urate crystals may be visible when the fluid is examined under a microscope.
- Blood Test: The doctor may recommend a blood test to measure uric acid levels in the blood. Blood test results can be misleading, though. Some patients have high uric acid levels but never experience Gout, and some patients have signs and symptoms of Gout but do not have abnormal uric acid levels in their blood.
- Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves and helps to detect urate crystals in joints or tophi.
- X-Ray Imaging: Joint X-rays can help to rule out other causes of joint inflammation.
- Dual-Energy Computerized Tomography (DECT): This test consists of X-ray images taken from many different angles to visualize urate crystals in joints.