8 Symptoms of Gout

A flare up of gout can be extremely painful and happen suddenly at night. It is actually a form of arthritis that can affect anyone. The big toe joint is where it commonly seems to begin. However, it can also affect the joints of the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. This condition is caused by a buildup of urate crystals within the joints in patients that have high uric acid levels in their blood. Normally, the uric acid is dissolved and excreted through the kidneys. But, if the body does not remove enough of this uric acid, it can form crystals and settle into joints and surrounding tissues causing gout.

Several tests can be used to diagnose this condition including blood tests and joint fluid tests. There are also several types of medications to help prevent and treat it. Staying well hydrated, maintaining an appropriate body weight, eating low fat dairy products, and limiting intake of meat and alcohol products also help.

1. Ankle Pain

Gout that occurs in the ankle joint can often be difficult to diagnose. Because the redness is spread over the ankle area, some doctors may initially diagnose it as cellulitis or a sprain. Ankle pain may be felt over the entire area or just over the actual ankle joint. Gout in the ankle can begin somewhat slowly with some tightness and mild twinges of pain. However, the area soon becomes hot and red to the touch. Swollen areas can become very pronounced when attacks occur at the ankle, sometimes even causing the joint to nearly double in size. Due to the type of bone structure located in the ankle, this can be one of the most painful joints to have gout in. The pain can become quite excruciating and many people find that they need to have crutches to even walk. Affected ankles bring another danger due to the fact that the ankle can be injured when trying to ambulate due to the pain in the joint. Due to the severity of the pain in this joint and the risk of further injury, it is important to begin treatment as quickly as possible when symptoms begin.

2. Knee Pain

The signs and symptoms in the knee often arise at night when the body is resting. These episodes occur rapidly and arise over the period of a few hours. Knee gout symptoms are the same as with other joints. However, the joint area is larger and they can be more spread out and possibly cause more pain than is seen with other joints. The joint can cause so much knee pain that it prevents the person from being able to walk and move around. This can also cause the risk of injuries from falls due to the amount of pain. Because of the way the knee joint is made, there are a lot of places for the uric acid crystals to gather. For this reason, it is important to get knee gout treated immediately.

3. Joint Pain

Joint pain is one of the hallmark symptoms of gout. It usually affects one joint at a time and comes on pretty severely. The joint pain is often described as excruciating and if left untreated, can spread to other joints. Joint pain in the legs is so severe that patients are often unable to ambulate at all. Gout typically affects joints related to the extremities of the arms and legs. The joints in fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, elbows and knees are usually affected. Over time, the uric acid crystals that have been deposited in the joints can harden into lumps which can cause more serious problems for the patient.

4. Lumps

Once these uric acid crystals are deposited in the joint, treatment is needed to remove them to avoid complications. Left untreated, the crystals harden into lumps or cysts in the joints, bones and cartilage called tophi. Sometimes these cysts can harden and even break through the skin. They have a yellowish or whitish color and typically take about ten years to begin appearing in a patient who has gone untreated or had treatments that are unsuccessful. Occasionally, the medications that are used to decrease the production of uric acid or increase the rate of uric acid elimination from the body do not work effectively. Then, tophi will form and the patient is said to suffer from refractory chronic gout. The lumps eventually cause the damage to the joint which can be disfiguring.

5. Stiffness

One of the main symptoms patients deal with is joint stiffness. Once the patient begins to experience the onset of pain and redness, joint stiffness is usually not far behind. Swollen joints can increase it because it stops the range of motion that the patient normally has with the joint. In addition, due to the severe pain that it causes, patients do not want to move the affected joint because it can cause further pain. Keeping the joint still over a period of time can cause the surrounding tissues to become even more stiff than before. The best way to avoid problems due to stiffness is prevention and early treatment whenever symptoms present themselves.

6. Swelling

Most joints affected by gout have the typical hallmark signs of pain with swelling at the joint. The swelling can be very pronounced. It is caused by the inflammation due to the body’s efforts to protect the joint and get rid of the uric acid crystals which are not supposed to be there. Swelling can keep the patient from being able to move the joint properly. This can cause other problems such as stiffness or injuries when ambulating. Patients should try to elevate and ice the affected limb to help alleviate some of these symptoms. Again, the best way to avoid problems is early treatment when symptoms arise.

7. Physical Deformity

Gout that remains untreated by the patient or because the medications are ineffective can result in physical deformity. This condition usually develops after suffering with gout for about ten years. The development of the cysts called tophi can cause the patient to have deformity in affected joints. Some of these lumps can even break through the skin and appear as whitish or yellowish growths. These often occur in awkward places on the body, such as the very tops of ears, at the tips of the fingertips or around toes. These can be removed surgically if necessary to alleviate pain or problems. Patients who suffer with these are said to have refractory chronic gout.

8. Redness

Areas of red coloration are often a recognized sign of gout. There are some patients who do not have it, but many who have gout often have a joint with a very localized area of redness and heat to the touch. The area is red, swollen and even shiny looking due to the body’s inflammatory response. The body sends blood to the area to fight the foreign uric acid crystals which have taken up residence in the joint where they are not supposed to be. Many patients report the sensation of heat over the affected area of redness. Early intervention with medical help is best to prevent symptoms from worsening.