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Gout is a form of crystal arthropathy that affects the joints. High levels of uric acid in the blood can lead to the uric acid accumulating in a joint and causing an intense inflammatory reaction and pain.
Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. The condition commonly affects joints such as the:
Less commonly, gout can also affect the joints of the upper limbs such as the fingers or wrists.
Gout can cause sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in the joint. The affected joint may feel so tender that you have difficulty turning over in bed, or you may wake up in the middle of the night feeling like your big toe is on fire.
The first sign of a gout attack is a sudden warm throbbing of the affected joint.
This pain can quickly become excruciating and escalate to swelling and redness of the joint. The initial episode usually subsides completely within a week.
Other symptoms include:
Gout is caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is formed by the body when it breaks down purines, a common chemical compound found in foods and drinks.
Usually, uric acid passes through the kidneys. However, a diet high in purines may lead to excessive amounts of uric acid in the blood, which cannot be sufficiently excreted through urine.
The excess uric acid will be deposited in the joint, where it forms crystals known as tophi. These crystals cause inflammation, swelling and pain.
Risk factors for gout include:
Left untreated, gout can lead to complications such as:
It may not be possible to completely prevent gout. However, lifestyle adjustments can help to reduce the severity and frequency of gout attacks.
You can reduce your risk of gout by:
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