See a doctor Skip to content

What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden and very severe pain, swelling and inflammation, usually just in one joint (although more than one may be affected). This is often your big toe, but it can affect other joints, including other areas of your feet, ankles, knees, wrists and hands.

Gout symptoms

The pain usually starts at night when you’re asleep, and gradually gets worse over a couple of hours. Symptoms include:

  • Severe joint pain - the joint will be very sensitive to anything touching it
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Redness of the skin around the joint
  • Shiny skin around the joint
  • Pain when walking or moving the joint
  • You may also have a mild fever, and generally feel unwell

For more information on gout symptoms.

Gout diagnosis

If you have severe pain in one of your joints (most commonly it happens in the big toe, knees, elbows, fingers or wrists) and it comes on suddenly, you should see a GP. If you have severe pain and a fever, call 111, or see a GP urgently, as this could be a sign of infection.

During an online video consultation, our doctors will need as much information as you can give them about your symptoms. They will also want to take a look at the area that you think is affected by gout in order to provide you with an accurate diagnosis.

They’ll ask about your lifestyle and diet, medical history and also whether you’ve experienced gout attacks in the past, or if it runs in your family, amongst other things.

For more detailed information about what will happen during your consultation, click here.

Gout causes

The symptoms of gout are caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood, which can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in your joints. These crystals cause your joint to become inflamed and swollen and will cause a lot of pain and swelling.

There are things that can contribute to an attack happening too, and certain people are more prone to the condition than others. To read more about causes of gout.

Gout treatment

Gout usually needs to be treated in a number of ways. Firstly, medication can be taken to alleviate the initial pain and secondly, lifestyle and dietary changes can be made to try and help prevent it returning, as well as potential long-term medication.

There are self-care methods to help you recover from an attack, which includes rest, applying ice and drinking plenty of fluid.

The medications for treating the initial pain of a gout attack include:

In order for your treatment to be effective, this will be tailored to you, your symptoms and how you respond to it. This is why it helps our doctors to have as much information as possible before giving you a diagnosis.

Once you have recovered from an attack, there are things you can do to help prevent another attack in the future.

Find out more about how gout can be treated and prevented.