Gout may occur after taking medicines that interfere with the removal of uric acid from the body. People who take certain medicines, such as hydrochlorothiazide and other water pills, may have higher levels of uric acid in the blood.
Symptoms of acute gout:
Only one or a few joints are affected. The big toe, knee, or ankle joints are most often affected.
The pain starts suddenly, often during the night. Pain is often described as throbbing, crushing, or excruciating.
The joint appears warm and red. It is usually very tender and swollen (it hurts to put a sheet or blanket over it).
There may be a fever.
The attack may go away in a few days, but may return from time to time. Additional attacks often last longer.
People will have no symptoms after a first gout attack. Many people will have another attack in the next 6-12 months.
Some people may develop chronic gout. This is also called gouty arthritis. This condition can lead to joint damage and loss of motion in the joints. People with chronic gout will have joint pain and other symptoms most of the time.
Tophi are lumps below the skin around joints or other places such as the finger tips and ears. Tophi can develop after a person has had gout for many years. These lumps may drain chalky material.
Not everyone with high uric acid levels in the blood has gout. A level over 7 mg/dL is high.
Take medicines for gout as soon as you can if you have a sudden attack.
Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or indomethacin when symptoms begin. Talk to your health care provider about the correct dose. You will need stronger doses for a few days.
Your health care provider may prescribe strong painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.
A prescription medicine called colchicine helps reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Corticosteroids (such as prednisone) can also be very effective. Your doctor may inject the inflamed joint with steroids to relieve the pain.
The pain often goes away within 12 hours of starting treatment. Most of the time all pain is gone within 48 hours.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines you take daily (such as allopurinol or probenecid) to decrease uric acid levels in your blood. You may need these medicines if:
You have several attacks during the same year or your attacks are quite severe.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of acute gouty arthritis.
You may not be able to prevent gout but may be able to avoid things that trigger symptoms.
Khanna D, Fitzgerald JD, Khanna PP, Bae S, Singh MK, Neogi T, et al. 2012 American College of Rheumatology guidelines for management of gout. Part 1: Systematic nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapeutic approaches to hyperuricemia. Arthritis Care & Research. 2012;64(10):1431-46.
Khanna D, Khanna PP, Fitzgerald JD, Singh MK, Bae S, Neogi T, et al. 2012 American College of Rheumatology guidelines for management of gout. Part 2: Therapy and antiinflammatory prophylaxis of acute gouty arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research. 2012;64(10):1447-61.
Choi HK. A prescription for lifestyle change in patients with hyperuricemia and gout. Current Opinion in Rheumatology. 2010;22(2):165-72.
Burns CM, wortmann RL. Clinical features and treatment of Gout. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al, eds.Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2012:chap 95.
Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.