Skip to content

    Arthritis Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Signs Your Chronic Gout Is Getting Worse

    Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream. Over time, deposits of uric acid crystals collect around bone or cartilage. The build-up of uric acid may cause no symptoms at first. If the area becomes inflamed, a gout attack occurs, with swelling, redness, and intense pain.

    Acute gout attacks can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, or more powerful prescription medicines. But after a first attack, there is about an 80% chance of another flare-up within the next two years.

    Recommended Related to Arthritis

    Beyond Arthritis: Hip and Knee Replacements for Women

    If your mother or grandmother had a knee or hip replacement, the odds are good she was in her late 60s or 70s when she opted for the surgery, and it was a "last resort" decision -- either get a new knee or start using a cane or a wheelchair. That's not today's joint replacement surgery. With the baby boom generation hitting their 60s -- the age at which joints start to hurt and ultimately give out -- more and more people are seeking knee and hip replacements to maintain their active lifestyle.

    Read the Beyond Arthritis: Hip and Knee Replacements for Women article > >

    Several medications are approved to lower uric acid levels and reduce the risk of flare-ups. But in patients with serious medical conditions in addition to gout, effective treatment can be difficult. Some of the most common co-existing conditions that complicate treatment are:

    When Gout Becomes a Chronic Problem

    When uric acid levels in the bloodstream remain too high, more and more crystals are deposited. Gout can become a chronic condition, leading to painful and disfiguring damage to joints.

    The course of gout varies considerably from person to person. Signs that chronic gout may be getting worse include:

    • More frequent and longer-lasting flare-ups of gouty arthritis: As chronic gout gets worse, flare-ups occur more often and last longer. Over time, the inflammation causes permanent damage to bone and cartilage.
    • Flare-ups in other parts of the body: In about half of all patients with gout, the first attack occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe. When chronic gout occurs, other joints may be affected, including the ankle and knee.
    • Nodules forming under the skin: Uric acid crystals may begin to be deposited in soft tissue, forming nodules called tophi. Tophi commonly appear on the hands, fingers, elbows, and ears, but they can appear almost anywhere on the body. Tophi can be very disfiguring. Chronic gout is sometimes referred to as tophaceous gout, because of the presence of tophi.
    • Kidney problems: Uric acid is normally eliminated by the kidneys. Kidney disease can cause uric acid build-up and gout. But excess uric acid can also damage kidneys. Kidney problems associated with chronic gout -- and signs that chronic gout is getting worse -- include gouty kidney, kidney stones, and kidney failure.

    Today on WebMD

    Mature woman exercise at home
    Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
    feet with gout
    Quiz yourself.
     
    woman in pain
    One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
    senior couple walking
    Can you keep your RA from progressing?
     
    xray of knees with osteoarthritis
    Slideshow
    close up of man wearing dress shoes
    Slideshow
     
    feet with gout
    Quiz
    close up of red shoe in shoebox
    Slideshow
     
    salad
    Video
    two male hands
    ARTICLE
     
    Woman massaging her neck
    Quiz
    5 Lupus Risk Factors
    Article