What Are the Main Signs of Gout

Quincy AdamGout Learn

Painful and inflamed foot
Gout, an inflammatory disease often caused by too much uric acid in your blood, can often occur suddenly, without warning. Learning how to recognize the signs can help ensure that you seek the proper treatment and can identify a flare up in the future.

The following are common signs of gout:

Pain in an affected joint

Pain is one of the main signs of gout. For some, it may come in brief twinges over several years. More often, you’ll feel intense pain in one joint, most likely the large joint of your big toe. Or you may feel pain in other joints, such as your feet, knees, hands, or wrists.

The sensation often starts at night or early in the morning, and it’s severe enough to wake you up. It can feel like you’ve dislocated a bone, and your toe may be so tender that even the weight of the sheet can feel painful. The pain is often at its most severe four to 12 hours after the attack begins.


Your joint will probably look swollen and red, and the swelling may extend beyond the joint. If your big toe is affected, for example, your entire foot might swell to the point that it’s difficult to put your shoes on. It will feel warm, and your skin may look red and shiny.

Lingering effects

Even after the severe pain eases off, the affected joint may feel uncomfortable for up to a few weeks. The skin around the joint may also peel and itch.

Appearance of nodules

You may have nodules called tophi on your toes, hands, forearms, fingers, elbows, ears, or other places. These crystals form underneath your skin and are often associated with chronic gout, but they can sometimes be the first indication of a gout attack. They look like lumps under your skin and can sometimes poke through the skin, causing sores.

Kidney stones

According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 20 percent of people who have gout get kidney stones.1 This can cause severe pain and can cause kidney damage if left untreated. But not everyone who has gout will also have kidney stones. There are several types of kidney stones; only one type is related to gout.

General unwellness

You may feel sick in general when you have a gout attack. You may not feel like eating, and you may also have chills, a fast heartbeat, or a low-grade fever.

If you have signs of gout, it’s important to see your doctor. He or she may be able to give you medicine to help with any pain you may still be experiencing. Many people who have one gout attack will have other flare ups that lost longer, occur more often, and spread to other joints. A doctor can test your blood and fluid from your joints to confirm a diagnosis of gout and prescribe medicine to help lower your uric acid levels. A combination of lifestyle/dietary changes and medication may make the disease more manageable for most people.

1 “Five Conditions Linked with Gout.” http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/articles/gout-comorbidities.php. Accessed May 9, 2016.