The symptoms of gout usually come on suddenly and severely. They are referred to as gout attacks, which can happen one time or several times. A single gout attack usually only affects only one joint, but recurrent attacks may affect more than one joint. The big toe is the most common site of gout. Other sites include the ankle, heel, foot instep, wrist, elbow, or fingers.
Gout of the Big Toe
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Attack symptoms often develop rapidly overnight and worsen over the next 24-48 hours. Common symptoms in the joint include:
Recurrent attacks can lead to permanent joint damage, especially if gout remains untreated. Uric acids can build up and create deposits called tophi. They can lead to:
High levels of uric acid in the body can also lead to complications in other areas of the body, such as the kidneys.
Gout. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Gout. Updated September 2012. Accessed December 5, 2014.
Gout. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115215/Gout. Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Gout. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/gout_ff.asp. Updated July 2010. Accessed December 5, 2014.
Pittman JR, Bross MH. Diagnosis and management of gout. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(7):1799-1806.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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