What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden and severe pain attacks, tenderness of joints, redness and swelling. It mostly affects and target the joints under the big toe. Gout is more common among men and people of older age; however, it could also affect anyone.
What is the cause?
The main cause of gout is a build-up of a substance called uric acid in the blood. If this substance is not filter out of the system through the kidneys, it will result in an excess of uric acid, causing crystals to form in and around joints. These crystals inherently cause the joint to become inflame and painful.
Some common signs and symptoms of gout include:
- Inflammation: the affected joint or joints would become swollen and tender, the skin would appear shiny and red
- Intense joint pain: even though gout commonly targets the big toe, it could also affect any joints towards the ends of the limbs, such as the knees, ankles and fingers. The pain is most likely to be more severe and debilitating within the first four to 12 hours after it begins
- Discomfort and limited range of motion: after the sudden attack subsides, joint discomforts may remain from a few days to a few weeks. Range of motion are limited as joints are not able to move normally
How is gout diagnosed?
- Blood test: to measure the level of uric acid present in the blood
- Joint fluid test: by using a needle, the doctor may draw fluid from the affected joint. When placed under microscope examination, urate crystals may be identifiable
- Medications use to treat severe gout attacks include colchicine and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Ice packs could also be used to relieve swelling and redness
- To prevent future attacks, a lifestyle change may be necessary which includes losing weight or changing one’s diet
“Gout.” Mayo Clinic, 16 Nov. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897
“Gout.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Feb. 2020, https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/gout