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Medical History and Physical Exam for Gout

A medical history and a physical exam are often used to diagnose gout.

During the medical history, your doctor will typically ask about any:

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During a physical exam, your doctor will:

  • Take your temperature. Fever may accompany gout attacks.
  • Examine the skin over the painful joint to see whether it is warm, tender, red, or peeling.
  • Check the skin over the affected joint for cuts that may be a source of infection.
  • Feel the joint to assess pain.
  • Check the range of motion of the affected joint.
  • Examine your hands, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, and earlobes for gritty, chalky clumps of uric acid crystals called tophi.

If your medical history and physical exam clearly suggest that you have gout, further testing may be postponed until treatment relieves pain and swelling or until subsequent attacks occur.

If the diagnosis remains unclear after the history and physical exam, your doctor may order a blood test to measure the level of uric acid in your blood. He or she may also order a joint fluid aspiration test to examine joint fluid for uric acid crystals.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Last Revised June 12, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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