Gout is a kind of arthritis. It happens when you have too much uric acid in your blood and it forms sharp crystals in one of your joints.
Most gout cases happen in big toes. It usually affects only one joint at a time. But without treatment, you might end up with it in your knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist, or elbow. Flare-ups can last up to 10 days. They hurt the most during the first 36 hours.
The most common signs of a gout attack are:
- Sudden and severe pain, usually in the middle of the night or early morning
- Tenderness; the joint can also be warm to the touch and look red or purple
If you go a long time without treatment, the crystals can form lumps under the skin around your joint. These lumps are called tophi. They don’t hurt, but they can affect the way the joint looks. If the crystals collect in your urinary tract, they can form kidney stones.
If you have an attack of gout, call your doctor as soon as possible. Until your appointment, you can ice and elevate the joint, and take anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Stay away from alcohol or sweet drinks.