Gout is a common, painful form of arthritis. It causes swollen, red, hot and stiff joints.
Gout happens when uric acid builds up in your body. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are in your body's tissues and in foods, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies. Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. But sometimes uric acid can build up and form needle-like crystals. When they form in your joints, it is very painful. The crystals can also cause kidney stones.
Often, gout first attacks your big toe. It can also attack ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. At first, gout attacks usually get better in days. Eventually, attacks last longer and happen more often.
You are more likely to get gout if you:
- Are a man
- Have family member with gout
- Are overweight
- Drink alcohol
- Eat too many foods rich in purines
Gout can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor may take a sample of fluid from an inflamed joint to look for crystals. You can treat gout with medicines.
Pseudogout has similar symptoms and is sometimes confused with gout. However, it is caused by calcium phosphate, not uric acid.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
- Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition (CPPD) (American College of Rheumatology)
- Diuretics and Gout: What's the Connection? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Glucosamine: Can It Worsen Gout Symptoms? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Gout in Hands (American Society for Surgery of the Hand)
- Pseudogout (American Society for Surgery of the Hand)
- Gout: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- Phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthetase superactivity: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- REN-related kidney disease: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- Uromodulin-associated kidney disease: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- Gout (VisualDX)
Statistics and Research
- Arthritis by the Numbers: Book of Trusted Facts and Figures (Arthritis Foundation) - PDF
- Gout (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: SToRytelling to Improve Disease outcomes in Gout (STRIDE-GO): a multicenter, randomized...
- Article: Effect of alkalized urine on renal calculi in patients with gout:...
- Article: Pleiotropic Effects of Functional MUC1 Variants on Cardiometabolic, Renal, and Hematological...
- Gout -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Rheumatologist (American College of Rheumatology)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish