Gout Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Gout is characterized by inflamed, painful joints due to the formation of crystal deposits (monosodium urate) in and around the joints. Gout affects more men than women, and its presence is often associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high levels of lipids in the blood.

Gout is one of the more than 100 causes of arthritis that we treat at the Center for Arthritis and Joint Diseases. Our gout specialists work closely with specialists from other Brigham and Women’s Hospital services to provide comprehensive arthritis care.

What are the causes of gout?

Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body, which leads to the development of monosodium urate crystal deposits (tophi) in the joints. This buildup of uric acid may be caused by a variety of factors, including a high consumption of alcohol or protein-rich foods, fatigue, stress, or minor surgery.

What are the symptoms of gout?

The following are the most common symptoms of gout:

  • Severe and sudden pain in one or more joints, often in the big toe
  • Swollen joint(s)
  • Tight, shiny, and red/purplish skin over a joint
  • Warmth in joints
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Hard lumps of urate crystal deposits under the skin

Symptoms of gout may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is gout diagnosed?

If a complete medical history and a physical examination suggest the presence of gout, we can confirm the diagnosis by examining a fluid sample from the joint for the presence of urate crystals.

How do we treat gout?

Our physicians work with patients to develop an individualized treatment plan. Common gout treatments include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Colchicine, an oral or intravenous medication to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Increasing fluid intake and avoiding alcohol
  • Reducing protein consumption
  • Reducing weight
  • Medication to lower uric acid level in the blood
  • Medication to block production of uric acid in the body
  • Surgery to remove large urate crystals

Contact Us

To learn more about our services or to make an appointment with a Brigham and Women’s Hospital rheumatologist, contact one of our trained coordinators at 1-800-294-9999 to get connected with the best doctor for your needs.


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