Gout usually presents with acute symptoms. Some of the characteristic features of acute gout attacks are rapid onset of pain in the affected joint, warmth, swelling, reddish discoloration and marked tenderness.
Gout usually presents with acute symptoms i.e. you may suddenly develop pain without warning. Statistics show that a significant number of patients experience the symptoms at night.
Signs and Symptoms of Gout
Acute attack of gout: It may affect the joints of ankles, hands, wrists, knees or feet. The involved joint becomes painful. The small joint at the base of the big toe is the most common joint that is involved in an acute attack of gout. An acute attack of gouty arthritis at the base of the big toe is called podagra. The characteristic feature of acute gout attacks include rapid onset of pain in the affected joint, warmth, swelling, reddish discoloration and marked tenderness. Tenderness can be severe (to the extent that even a sheet touching the skin over the affected joint can be unbearable). Symptoms of an acute gouty attack may last for about a week if left untreated and gradually subside during the following week or two. Only rarely does an acute attack last for weeks in some patients. Many patients with gout have repeated attacks of arthritis over the years.
- Redness and inflammation: You may have tender, red and swollen joint(s) in the areas that are most painful.
- Red/purplish skin: The skin over the affected area may become red or purplish. This may confuse the patient and make him or her believe that the area/joint has become infected.
- Fever – During an acute attack, some patients develop fever.
- Peeling of skin: As an acute attack subsides, the skin around the affected joint may start to itch and peel. In a few days, the patient feels fine.
Bursitis: In some patients, uric acid crystals may get deposited in tiny fluid-filled sacs (bursae) around the joints leading to inflammation of the bursa. This is called bursitis.When it affects the elbow, it is called olcranon bursitis and when the knee is affected, it is known as prepatellar bursitis. Bursitis causes pain and swelling around the joints. Only rarely does gout cause a more chronic type of joint inflammation that appears like rheumatoid arthritis.
Chronic (tophaceous) gout: These patients develop hard nodular masses of uric acid crystals (tophi) deposit in different soft-tissue areas of the body. Tophi are most commonly found around the fingers, at the tips of the elbows, in the ears and around the big toe, but it can appear anywhere in the body. When tophi appear in the tissues, the person usually has substantial overload of uric acid within the body for a long period.
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