Gout Symptoms: 10 Most Common Symptoms
With contributions from Patricia.
Gout is not the result of just one condition — there are several causes of the disease. Some are classified as primary while others arise as a result of other health problems, but all are characterized by joint pain.
Gout is a condition caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood – and uric acid is the byproduct of the breakdown of purines and serves no useful function in the human body. A regular, healthy person is able to excrete uric acid through urine but for some people (like those with gout!), this is not possible.
There are two reasons why this is: there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream or the body is not able to excrete enough uric acid, hence the buildup. These two causes are interrelated with each other. Genetics and certain lifestyle choices cause uric acid levels to rise as well as inhibit the body’s ability to excrete uric acid.
Once the correct condition is identified, an effective treatment plan may be developed. Until these techniques were perfected, many people were diagnosed incorrectly with gout.
Careful examination of the synovial fluid offers healthcare providers with opportunities to rule out infectious diseases with joint pain that may resemble symptoms of gout. Health care providers are also able to determine whether or not the joint is inflamed or not, which provides further clues to the origin of the problem.
The Different Types of Gout
Primary gout is due to an innate hereditary problem that results in the buildup of uric acid within the body. 90 percent of people who are diagnosed with primary gout are male; the condition is virtually nonexistent in premenopausal women.
Secondary gout develops as a result of acquired metabolic problems or medication. Certain types of chemotherapy, such as those used to treat some leukemias, increase the likelihood of gout development.
The most common type of gout — or crystal-induced arthritis — is the monosodium urate (MSU) type, which is characterized by uric acid crystals in the synovial fluid. Other kinds of gout arise due to the presence of various types of calcium crystals.
Chronic gout, also known as gouty arthritis, affects several joints. Uric acid crystal deposits (tophi) build up in multiple areas of the body: synovial fluids, tissues, tendons, vertebrae, elbows, between cartilage and bones, in the cartilage itself, and in the skin. The course of chronic gout is highly variable; there may be chronic low-grade discomfort accompanied by mild flare-ups intermittently, or it may result from severe episodes, which create chronic deterioration of the involved tissues.
Top 10 Symptoms of Gout
Gout forms into sharp, needle-like crystals which can cause serious pain in the joints, with the big toe joint being the most affected. However, that is not the only sign of gout. Here are the top 10 gout symptoms and signs to watch out for. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, you may have gout.
1. Toe Pain
Let’s start with the most obvious, toe pain or podagra as doctors call it. This is probably one of the most known symptoms of gout. It’s furthest from the heart making it the most prone for gout attacks. Flares usually happen in the middle of the night when the temperature is at its coldest.
If you are lucky, your toe will be the only joint that gets affected when you have gout. What happens is that uric acid builds up in this particular area causing the sufferer to feel immense pain during a gout flare. At this point, it’s best to rest and elevate the affected joint to promote circulation. Recovering from a gout attack will take anywhere between one to two weeks.
Aside from pain, you will also experience swelling and sensitivity. You will notice that the area around the joint or even the whole lower limb becomes very swollen. It becomes so sensitive that even the lightest touch or vibration caused by a person walking in a room can cause immense pain. You would have to take NSAIDs to make the pain subside.
This symptom disappears in a span of hours or days. However, the toe can still feel sore in the next few days or weeks making it difficult to walk properly. For this, you can apply cold compress on the affected area. Just be very gentle though as your foot can be very sensitive to touch.
Next page: Six more symptoms of gout – fever, tenderness, skin changes, peeling, elbow gout, and kidney stones.