Primary symptoms of gout
Gout can affect the ankles, feet, hands, knees, and wrists. The first symptoms of gout may occur suddenly and without any warning. The primary symptom of gout is intense pain in the affected joint or surrounding tissues. Acute pain is generally followed by joint inflammation (almost infected-looking) where a joint will appear red, swollen, hot and extremely sensitive to the touch. Joint pain typically lasts 5 to 10 days and then stops. In the course of one to two weeks, discomfort may subside and the joint may appear normal and pain-free. Common characteristics of joint pain include:
Joint pain characteristics
Symptoms of gout over time
Over time, gout attacks can last longer, occur more frequently, and be more destructive to joints and other tissue. Uric acid crystals can further accumulate in the body, causing gritty, chalky deposits called tophi that are sometimes visible under the skin, particularly around joints and in the edges of the ears. Tophi may also form inside bone near the joints, in the kidneys, and in other organs and tissues, causing permanent damage.
When to seek help
Anyone who experiences a sudden onset of hot, red, swollen joint(s) should seek medical help immediately. If you have been diagnosed with gout and experience more than one attack of arthritis, or if your attack does not respond to treatment you should also seek medical help. These types of symptoms can also be due to an infection or loss of cartilage in the joint and it is important to identify the cause early in order to treat the problem. Call or see your doctor immediately if you have:
Medications can help prevent further arthritis and gout flares. In order to get proper treatment, however, it is important to seek a diagnosis. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of gouty arthritis as treatment is based on the cause of inflammation. Continue reading the next section on how to diagnose gout to anticipate which tests doctors use to confirm a gout diagnosis. The Diagnosing Gout section follows for information on moving toward gout relief.
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