What Is Gout?

'What Is Gout?' image

Many people have probably heard the word gout but few know much about it. Gout has been known for more than 2,000 years. It can affect men of any age. It is less common in women and then usually only occurs after the menopause. Luckily, treatment for gout is probably the most effective out of all the rheumatic conditions.

Gout is a medical condition that causes sudden and severe episodes of joint pain, tenderness, warmth and swelling. It usually affects the joint at the base of the big toe but can affect other joints such as the knee, ankles, hands or wrist.

Gout Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of gout are generally acute – they come on suddenly without warning. A significant proportion of people with gout experience them at night.

Attacks usually occur in the big toe and any physical contact is painful. The symptoms develop over a few hours and the swelling can very often look like an infection and the skin may peel.

Gout may also occur in the ankles, hands, wrists, knees or feet. Many people describe the affected areas as warm/hot. If several joints are inflamed at once this is called polyarticular gout.

Urate crystals cause inflammation. This is where the joint becomes intensely painful, red, hot, shiny and swollen. Urate crystals can also collect under the skin and elsewhere, forming small, firm, white pimples called tophi, which are not usually painful.

Similar attacks can be caused by calcium crystal deposits in joints. This type of crystal arthritis (termed pseudogout or pyrophosphate arthritis) affects the knee and other joints more than the big toe and is linked with osteoarthritis.

Gout Treatment

There are a number of possible treatments for acute attacks of gout, including:

  1. NSAIDs - Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
  2. Colchicine
  3. Steroids
  4. Urate-Lowering Therapy (ULT)

This booklet will help you understand more about gout, what it is, what causes it and the different gout treatments so you can live your best possible life with this condition. 

In this booklet you will find:



Download full booklet here



Watch our newly published series of Gout Videos, by Prof. Geraldine Mc Carthy