Gout Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of Gout

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What Is Gout?

Gout is a kind of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines that are part of many foods we eat. An abnormality in handling uric acid and crystallization of these compounds in joints can cause attacks of painful arthritis, kidney stones, and blockage of the kidney filtering tubules with uric acid crystals, leading to kidney failure. Gout has the unique distinction of being one of the most frequently recorded medical illnesses throughout history.

Symptoms of Gout

Acute gout attacks are characterized by a rapid onset of pain in the affected joint followed by warmth, swelling, reddish discoloration, and marked tenderness. The small joint at the base of the big toe is the most common site for an attack. Other joints that can be affected include the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. In some people, the acute pain is so intense that even a bed sheet touching the toe causes severe pain. These painful attacks usually subside in hours to days, with or without medication. In rare instances, an attack can last for weeks. Most people with gout will experience repeated bouts over the years.