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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chris Phillips

The Most Common Symptoms of Gout

Gout is a tricky medical condition.

It is often confused with rheumatoid arthritis since both conditions produce similar symptoms, but gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that stems from crystal-induced inflammation, not an autoimmune disease.

Gout is also not the same as osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disease that brings on arthritis. Gout is not pseudogout either, although both conditions are caused by the buildup of crystals in the joints.

So while gout can be complicated to diagnose, the expertise of a rheumatologist can help identify this particular type of arthritis.

Gout and Urate Crystals

Gout is in a league of its own due to the reason why gout develops.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines — substances that are found naturally in your body.”

Uric acid can build up for various reasons. Uric acid typically dissolves in your blood, which can then pass through your kidneys to be excreted in your urine. But with gout, the uric acid accumulates due to:

  • the body producing too much uric acid


  • the kidneys not eliminating enough uric acid

Symptoms During a Gout Flare-Up

In the beginning stages of gout, the joints are primarily affected. Gout attacks are known to come on suddenly and severely during the night.

Although ankles, elbows, knees, fingers, and wrists can be impacted by gout, one of the most common spots to experience a flare-up is in the big toe.

Pain: Many patients describe a gout attack as extremely painful, particularly in the first hours of a flare-up.

Warmth: The joint can feel hot to the touch.

Swelling: The inflammatory process will make your joint swell and become inflamed.

Redness: The skin will appear red and can even look shiny.

Tenderness: Some patients report that the joint becomes so tender that they cannot allow anything to touch the joint, even clothing or bedding.

Decreased Range of Motion: All the symptoms combined can make it difficult to move your joint.

Long Term Health Concerns with Gout

In the more advanced stages of gout, those urate crystals tend to cause larger problems and the symptoms of gout begin to expand and change.

Tophi: These “lumps” can form under the skin as the crystals grow around the joint, and over time, the lumps can damage bone and soft tissue.

Joints: Gout can lead to the complete destruction of a joint as it erodes away.

Kidneys: Some patients deal with regular kidney stones and chronic kidney disease.

Heart: Heart attacks and congestive heart failure have also occurred in patients with severe gout.

Other Health Concerns: Gout can increase the risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure.

When To See a Rheumatologist

Uncontrolled gout can lead to an increase in symptoms and other serious medical complications.

It might feel like you can manage gout on your own, especially when you are not in the middle of a flare-up. But gout is not a disease that should go unmanaged, and it is always best to have the help of a rheumatologist.

A rheumatologist can help you understand the different stages of gout and the various options available to treat gout.

Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we are accepting new patients with a physician’s referral and would love to help you decrease your gout symptoms with an individualized treatment plan designed to meet your specific needs.

Give us a call at 270-408-6100. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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