Gout most often affects the big toe, and as the pain can be very sudden and extremely severe, you will want to get a diagnosis, and a treatment, as soon as possible.
If you have severe pain in one of your joints (most commonly it happens in a big toe, knee, elbow, finger or wrist) 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.
What will happen during a consultation?
Our doctors will need as much information as you can give them about your symptoms and will want to take a look at the affected area during a video consultation in order to provide you with an accurate diagnosis. They’ll ask about your medical history and also whether you’ve experienced gout attacks in the past, or if it runs in your family.
The doctor may assess your risk factors, such as asking whether you consume alcohol, about your diet, or whether you take certain medications, in order to help give an accurate diagnosis and rule out other joint conditions, such as an injury.
Tests for gout
In most cases further tests aren’t required, but if they are, our GPs can refer you for them. This is usually only required if the doctor wants to rule out other conditions or if they want to find out the cause. If the attacks are frequent the doctor will want to arrange to measure the level of uric acid in your blood.
Other tests could include taking some fluid from the swollen joint, using a syringe and a needle. This can then be viewed under a microscope to see if the crystals of uric acid are present, which will confirm a gout diagnosis.
Why getting a diagnosis is important
It is important to get a diagnosis for gout because if you have an attack, you may have another in the future, so it’s important you treat the initial attack and understand how to try to prevent further ones happening and to avoid complications developing in the future.