What is Gout?

Despite cartoonish depictions of bandaged, flaming-red big toes, gout is no laughing matter. Just ask any gout sufferer, and youll find that an attack of gout can be an agonizing experience, indeed. And not only does this debilitating disease affect the big toes of the feet, it also can cause joint pain in the hips, knees, shoulders, ankles, hands, wrists, shoulders even the spine.

Gout targets men, primarily, between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Women also can become afflicted with gout, but this type of arthritis generally doesnt affect women until after theyve reached the age of menopause.

Right around one million people in the United States and one in every 18 people in Canada suffer from gout at one time or another in their lives. (And getting gout once does not necessarily mean you will have it again.) Unlike rhumatoid arthritis, which is a “forever-and-always” progressive disease, gout can come and go, seemingly at will although there are many successful treatments for the symptoms of it. But similar to other types of arthritis, there is no definite or successful, once-and-for-all cure for this inherited inability to properly process uric acid.

Gout manifests itself generally in the middle of the night. You may go to bed one night feeling perfectly fine only to awaken in the wee hours of the morning in excruciating pain. Crystals formed by an overabundance of uric acid settle into the liquid substance surrounding one or more joints and cause inflammation.

Pain, heat, redness, and swelling result sometimes to an agonizing degree. Fortunately, gout arthritis relief can be found in a number of different symptom treatments that can be recommended by your doctor.

Because other diseases can mimic gout (like psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis), its important to be tested. Joint fluid from the affected area must be analyzed to determine the presence of uric acid crystals before other diseases can be ruled out.

There is nothing funny about gout. Joint pain from gout can range from mildly discomforting to unbearable. So remember: Delaying treatment for gout may mean future episodes and even potentially crippling consequences.