Gout is the most common form of arthritis in adults and 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.
Causes and Risk Factors
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 (i.e., hyperuricemia) may be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- High consumption of alcohol
- Medications such diuretics
Gout also occurs commonly in patients with other health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and recent surgery or acute medical illnesses.
The following are the most common symptoms of gout:
- Severe and sudden pain in one of more joints, often in the big toe
- Swollen joint(s)
- Tight, shiny, and red/purplish skin over a joint
- Warmth in joints
- 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.
If a complete medical history and a physical examination suggest the presence of gout, we can check for the uric acid level in the blood and confirm the diagnosis by examining a fluid sample from the joint for the presence of urate crystals. We can also consider using joint X-rays, ultrasounds or a dual-energy CT scan to help diagnose gout.
Our physicians work with patients to develop an individualized treatment plan. Common gout treatments include:
For acute phase:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Colchicine, an oral medication to relive pain and inflammation
- Oral, intravenous or intraarticular corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
For chronic/maintenance phase:
- Life style modifications, such as avoiding or reducing alcohol intake, reducing protein consumption and weight loss
- Medication to lower uric acid levels in the blood
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.