Gout is a form of arthritis. It is a condition that causes severe attacks of pain and other symptoms during flareups. Unlike other forms of arthritis, you may feel perfectly fine for months before a flareup occurs. Most of the time, the flareups come without reason and can even develop while you are resting.
Gout happens when there is too much uric acid in your body, and it builds up to form urate crystals. These crystals can form in the joints of the body and typically have sharp edges, which cause pain and inflammation in the nearby area.
The most common symptoms associated with gout are severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness in the affected joint. Gout is most common in the big toe, however, it can also appear in other joints, like the ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist. Gout symptoms do not manifest in multiple joints every time. In fact, it is common for you to have symptoms in one joint only, like the big toe.
A flareup of gout typically lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The first several hours are most intense. You can feel intense pain, swelling, warmth, and limited range of mobility in the affected joint. After several hours, the symptoms tend to get less severe.
How Is Gout Diagnosed?
To diagnose gout, your doctor will perform a physical exam, ask for details about your symptoms, and check for any other factors that may indicate if you are at high risk for gout. Some factors, such as being obese, a family history of gout, and eating a diet rich in meat, alcohol, and fructose can increase your risk.
Additionally, certain medications, such as thiazide diuretics, and some medical conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease, also increase your risk. Your doctor may recommend at least one of the following tests to confirm a diagnosis of gout:
- Joint fluid test – This test involves drawing some fluid from the affected joint and examining it under a microscope. Urate crystals will be visible in the fluid if the pain is caused by gout.
- Blood test – A blood test to check your levels of uric acid and creatinine levels can also help your doctor determine if you have gout.
- Imaging test – Your doctor may want to see inside the affected joint before giving you a definite diagnosis. This can be performed with an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan. The images will show signs of inflammation and urate crystals in the joint, which can help determine if gout is responsible for your symptoms.
Gout Diagnosis and Treatment in South Texas
If you suspect you may have gout, the Podiatry Group of South Texas has the knowledge, training, experience, and advanced technology to diagnose and treat the condition effectively. We bring relief to patients with a wide variety of foot and ankle problems, including gout.
To find out more about our services or to schedule an appointment, call the Podiatry Group of South Texas clinic nearest you. For your convenience, we have podiatric clinics all over South Texas. You may also request an appointment online.