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Gout symptoms

Gout 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.

The pain usually starts at night, and gradually gets worse over a couple of hours.

The symptoms of gout include:

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

You may only ever have one attack, or you may have them more regularly - this varies from person to person.

If you do not treat the gout attack, it can last 3 to 10 days before settling completely, but the attacks should be treated, as repeated ones can lead to complications, such as bone or cartilage deformity. Read more about gout treatments.

Should you see a doctor about gout?

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.

Gout does need to be treated to prevent complications in the future, so see a GP.