Medically Reviewed by Dr. Rachel N. Verville

March 14, 2023

Person pointing to their foot gout.

Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis—and though it is fairly common, many patients are unaware of what gout is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.

Indeed, the immobilizing pain caused by gout can often be mistaken for other maladies, including a simple sprained ankle. In other instances, gout is misdiagnosed as cellulitis.

The good news about gout is that there are treatments available to manage the condition and significantly reduce the risk of painful flare-ups. Before seeking treatment, however, it is important to have a clear understanding of what gout is and why it happens.

What is Gout?

There are a few things you should know about gout.

  • First, know that gout is a member of the arthritis family. Much like other forms of arthritis, gout primarily affects the joints.
  • Second, gout is closely associated with uric acid. Our bodies naturally produce uric acid to aid in the digestion of certain foods, including red meat and alcohol. Excess uric acid can usually be expelled through urine, but when you have gout, that uric acid simply collects inside the body.
  • The build-up of uric acid will ultimately form crystals, which usually cluster around the joints. These crystals can cause significant pain, most frequently in the big toe but potentially in the ankles and other joints, too.

What are the Symptoms of Gout?

There are a number of symptoms commonly associated with gout. If you experience these symptoms, it may be time to see a podiatrist to confirm whether or not you have gout and learn more about treatment options.

Some of the most common symptoms of gout include:

  1. Pain. The most distressing symptom of gout is intense and often immobilizing pain. This pain usually begins at night.
  2. Stiffness. If you have gout, you may also experience stiffness in the affected joint areas.
  3. Redness. Gout can also result in bright red skin around the affected area. In some cases, it may take on a more purple-ish hue. This is one of the clearest, most diagnosable symptoms of gout.
  4. Warmth. These red or purple areas may also be warm to the touch. In addition, the skin can take on a “shiny” appearance.
  5. Limited mobility. As the symptoms of your gout progress, you may find that it is increasingly difficult to move around like normal.

How Long Do Gout Attacks Last?

Gout tends to “flare up” for short periods of time, after which your symptoms may recede until the next attack. A mild gout flare-up will usually last for 10 or 12 hours, sometimes a bit longer. A more severe gout flare-up may last for several weeks. The most extreme attacks will last for a month or more.

Some gout patients go years between attacks, while others experience gout flare-ups every few months. Seeking the proper care can help you minimize the frequency and intensity of gout attacks.

Learn More About Managing Your Gout

While the symptoms of gout can be discomforting, the good news is that they are often very manageable, both with medication and with changes to diet and lifestyle., Please feel free to contact RNV Podiatry with any questions at your convenience.