Gout is arthritis that happens when you have too much uric acid in your blood and it forms sharp crystals in one of your joints.
Your big toe is the most common place for it to happen. Flare-ups can last up to 10 days. The first 36 hours are the most painful. It usually affects only one joint at a time, but if it’s not treated, you might end up with it in your knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist, or elbow.
The most common signs of a gout attack are:
- Sudden and severe pain in a joint, usually in the middle of the night or early morning
- Tenderness in the joint. It can also be warm to the touch and look red or purple
- Stiffness in the joint
If gout isn’t treated over long periods of time, the crystals can form lumps under the skin around the joint. They’re called tophi. They don’t hurt, but they can affect the way the joint looks. And if the crystals accumulate in the 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. You also should drink plenty of fluids, especially water, but stay away from alcohol or sweet drinks.