Gout refers to a type of arthritis that is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream. In most cases, the kidneys can filter out the extra uric acid through the urine. However, if too much uric acid remains in the body, it can form hard crystals in the joints.
These crystals can cause swelling and pain. The big toe is most often affected, but other joints can be affected too. A gout attack can come on suddenly, and cause a burning sensation that is extremely painful. Gout isn’t necessarily caused by a single factor. Uric acid is produced by the body, and it also comes from the diet.
The most common symptom of gout is pain, tenderness, and swelling in the big toe. Such pain usually occurs at night. Some people experience gout attacks in the foot, ankle, knees, or other joints. The first 36 hours are the most painful, but it may be up to 10 days before the pain goes away. Sometimes, another attack doesn’t occur for months or years.
You should see your doctor even if the pain from a gout attack has subsided. The uric acid in the joints can still cause harm, even if you do not experience immediate pain.
For more information about gout and tips to help manage symptoms, visit the JoinAStudy.ca health blog here.