Hand surgeon John M. Erickson, MD answers your questions about the disease called Gout.
Gout is a common type of inflammatory arthritis typically presenting with a red, hot, swollen, extremely painful joint. Gout frequently affects joints in the big toe, ankle or knee but can happen elsewhere. Gout can also involve the fingers, wrist and elbow. A “gout attack” usually starts suddenly and the pain increases rapidly. Because of the skin redness, warmth, and pain intensity, gout attacks can be difficult to distinguish from infection.
What is gout?
A gout attack is caused when uric acid normally circulating in the blood deposits in joints or soft tissues and forms crystals. When the body reacts to the crystals it creates a painful inflammatory reaction. Uric acid is naturally produced in the body. It is a normal breakdown product of a chemical in many foods called purines. Our bodies remove uric acid through the urine. Gout occurs when there is either too much uric acid produced in the body or too little being removed by the kidneys. Gout attacks can cause joint damage over time. Bumps or nodules of uric acid can develop around the joints in long-term gout; these nodules are called tophi.