Gout is a disease which develops over a number of years due to the build up of uric acid crystals. Uric acid is a product of the metabolic breakdown of purine nucleotides. Gout mainly affects the big toe but may also affect the joints of the wrists, knee, ankle and fingers. When these crystals get deposited in the joints and surrounding tissues they get inflamed and cause pain.
The reasons for this uric acid deposits stem from the body’s inability to regulate the uric acid production and excretion. Wrong lifestyle, genetic predisposition, sudden changes in uric acid levels and medical conditions are the causative factors.
Untreated gout causes bone erosion, kidney stones and urate nephropathy. So it is better to be aware of it. The symptoms of gout develop rapidly and may last for 3 days to a week. The symptoms and attack may be experienced every few weeks, months or once a year as is the case in most patients. To know if you or someone you know is suffering from Gout read on the Symptoms of Gout so that you can take necessary action and seek medical help well in time.
Symptoms of Gout
Pain During Night
Pain that starts during night and which cannot be attributed to a known factor and is so intense that you cannot move yourself is a typical symptom of gout. This acute discomfort occurs suddenly without any warning signs. In half the total number of patients the joint at the base of the big toe is affected and it is called “Podagra”. But other joints may be affected too. The pain is intense in the first 24 hours after it begins.
In some cases gout appears as nodules which are hard painless uric acid crystals called “Tophi” which cause erosion of the bone eventually.
In some patients Tophi is formed over a long period and is not the first symptom. It generally appears on hands, elbows and even ears.
The high amount of uric acid in the blood gives rise to inflamed joints which become extremely tender, red and swollen. Feeling of warmth is also present especially in the big toe joint. But the symptoms may also start in other joints. The fluid sacs that cushion tissues in the elbow (olecranon bursitis) and knee (prepatellar bursitis) get inflamed.
Patients experience difficulty in moving the joints affected. Walking and even moving around the house is difficult. A light touch of a blanket may also be very painful.
Initially there is a quick increase in the joint discomfort and then it reduces. Even after the severity of the gout attack subsides, there may be some lingering discomfort in the joints which may last for a few weeks. Subsequent attacks may affect more joints and last longer.
After the pain of the gout subsides, the skin where the pain was present and also of the surrounding area may exhibit itchiness, peeling, flakiness and show change in colour. When pain is due to other reasons this does not occur.