What Are the Most Frequent Gout Symptoms?

Quincy AdamGout Lifestyle

X-ray normal foot
The number of people affected with painful gout symptoms has been on the rise in developed countries for some time, with at least 8.3 million Americans currently diagnosed.1

The inflammation, tenderness, redness, and soreness in any of your joints affected by gout can last for weeks, and left untreated, tends to spread to other joints within your body. Your joints and even your kidneys can become damaged as a result of chronic gout, so developing a treatment program in conjunction with your doctor should be done as soon as gout is suspected.

Gout Symptoms Warrant a Visit to Your Doctor

Although it can be difficult to distinguish one type of arthritis from another, your doctor is able to perform tests to determine whether your gout symptoms are most likely the result of gouty arthritis or stem from another cause. If you have one or more of the following signs and symptoms, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to develop a treatment regimen as soon as possible, as issues are likely to increase over time without intervention.

Just a note – women may be under a false impression that they are immune from developing gout. However, postmenopausal women often experience gout symptoms as frequently as men.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden, intense pain in the big toe, and/or in other joints including your feet, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and/or hands.

Gout typically occurs in one joint at a time, most commonly the big toe, but left untreated, tends to spread to additional joints and can ultimately affect many joints at the same time.

  • Pain that lingers in your joint(s) for days or even weeks after the onset of attack.

Although the first 12 hours are typically the most severe, patients may remain bedridden for many days thereafter. Over time and without treatment, the duration of symptoms tends to lengthen and intensify

  • Joints that become inflamed, hot, and red.

Gout sufferers sometimes experience inflammation so severe that you feel extreme pain when something as light as a bedsheet contacts the affected area. Heat can often be felt emanating from the joint, and skin can become tender and red.

  • The existence of tophi in one of more locations such as your elbows, fingers, and/or the big toe(s).

A tophus is a nodule composed of uric acid crystals which have built up under the skin, indicating a severe uric acid overload in the body. When gout symptoms include tophi, the person has likely been suffering from untreated gout for many years.

  • The presence of kidney stones, as uric acid has a tendency to deposit in the kidneys.

Although kidney damage and stones are another symptom of chronic gout which has been present for many years, treatment options are still available to help you find relief from painful effects of gout.

Prompt Treatment Can Protect Your Joints and Kidneys from Damage

Visiting your doctor as soon as possible when gout is suspected is the key to minimizing the intensity and frequency of your future attacks. Numerous medications and lifestyle changes may help keep flare ups at bay for years at a time, allowing you to continue living your normal lifestyle and protecting your joints and kidneys from the long term damage that can occur after multiple attacks.

If you are fortunate enough to catch gout early on in the process, managing your weight and minimizing your dietary intake of foods and beverages high in purines (such as beer, organ and fatty muscle meats, and many types of seafood) or those high in fructose and especially high fructose corn syrup (like sweetened beverages/sodas) may help keep you symptom free for an extended period of time. Talk with your doctor about the best combination of lifestyle changes and medications to treat your gout symptoms.


1 Yanyan Zhu, Bhavik J. Pandya and Hyon K. Choi. “Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2008.” Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21800283. Accessed May 9, 2016.