What is gout?
Sudden and intense attacks of pain, accompanied by tenderness, stiffness and redness in the joints (usually a single joint at a time) are the characteristic tell-tale symptoms of gout. A complex form of arthritis, gout can make a person feel like an affected joint (often the base of a big toe or foot) is suddenly ‘on fire’. Some have even described the condition as ‘explosive’ arthritis. Hot, swollen and tender are key indications of a gout attack (known as a flare). Severe gout can sometimes affect more than one joint (polyarticular gout).
The abnormal metabolism of uric acid (monosodium urate) is what results in excess amounts of this compound in the body’s bloodstream and tissues. Excess uric acid in the system is unable to be removed from the kidneys causing a build-up that can lead to the accumulation of solid deposits (crystals) which can result in the formation of kidney stones. Another problem which can develop as a result of excess uric acid is chronic gouty arthritis (frequent and longer lasting arthritic gout attacks which over a prolonged period can lead to permanent damage of bone and cartilage, as well as damage to the kidneys).
Gout that occurs without signs of other underlying medical conditions is known as primary gout. When it occurs alongside other health conditions or is related to medication use, it is known as secondary gout. This inflammatory condition is classified as a progressive disease, but can be effectively managed and treated. If not treated, flares or attacks can occur repeatedly and eventually cause damage to tissues, joints and tendons.