Gout can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of this particular type of arthritis may mimic other conditions such as joint infection. It is important that you see your doctor even if pain from gout has disappeared. The uric acid buildup that caused your gout attack may still be irritating your joints and could eventually cause serious damage. In order to make an accurate diagnosis, you can consult any of the following health professionals who can diagnose and prescribe treatment for gout:
The doctor will first examine the affected joint and take a full medical history to assess the nature and duration of symptoms. To arrive at a diagnosis a doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures as there is no single conclusive test in order to confirm a gout diagnosis.
Aspirated joint fluid sample - Doctors may take a sample of fluid from the affected joint to use light microscopy to find urate crystals. This is performed using a local anaesthetic and involves inserting a needle into the affected joint and removing a small amount of fluid. The fluid is then sent to a laboratory where it is tested for the presence of uric acid crystals. If they are present, then gout is confirmed.
Blood test - A blood test to check for alterations in normal blood levels and raised uric acid levels are also recommended. Results of this test may not always be helpful, however, as they often indicate normal uric acid levels during a gout attack (excess uric acid has already moved out of the blood and developed into crystals in the joints). Other blood tests used to exclude other causes of arthritis include:
Imaging tests - X-rays of the affected joints and area may also be taken to check for joint damage.
Urine samples - testing urine samples to measure the level of uric acid being discharged.
With correct diagnosis and management of gout ,the prognosis for people with gout is generally very positive. In fact, your doctor can prescribe medicines that will prevent and even reverse uric acid buildup. But what other gout treatments exist? To learn more about common and effective gout treatments, continue reading the next section on Gout Treatment that follows.
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