Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a natural waste product of the body that is normally filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidneys and excreted during urination. Patients with gout have an abnormal metabolism that reduces the kidneys’ effectiveness. Uric acid then accumulates in the blood and forms painful crystalline deposits in one or more joints or soft tissues, usually in the feet and legs. The most commonly affected joints are the big toe and knee.
The classic symptoms of gout are swelling, redness, warmth and a stabbing or throbbing pain in the affected joint. Symptoms usually appear suddenly. Acute attacks are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, gout medication, physical therapy and cortisone injections to reduce swelling and pain.
Attacks that recur over time can damage the joint, so patients with the chronic condition will typically be prescribed a medication that reduces uric acid levels in the blood.