Because of wrong diet, inactive lifestyle and obesity, many people suffer from gout these days. What is gout? What are the causes of gout? What are the first signs of gout attacks? What are the symptoms of gout? Can you have gout of the knee joint, toe or even finger? Can gout cause joint pain, fever, body aches, itching and swelling? How long can gout pain remain? Find out the answers here.
Gout attack on a big toe By Norbert Schnitzler (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
What is gout?
Gout is a rheumatoid form of arthritis that causes the inflammation, joint pain and swelling especially in the toe, knee and ankle, also reducing their mobility. Gout usually appears in midlife and primarily in males. It can be hereditary or secondary to process of other disease.
Causes of gout
Gout is mainly caused by the clustering of uric acid crystals in the arteries, obstructing the normal blood flow and causing inflammation. Uric acid is a residual product that is excreted from the body through urine during synthesis of purine - a substance that presents in fat meats, fish, some dairy products and vegetables. The level of uric acid can be found and measured in the blood.
In normal quantities, uric acid is neutral to the human. But, when there’s an excessive production of uric acid or renal insufficiency in eliminating the surplus of uric acid or other metabolic problems in the body, uric acid will retain, build up and deposit in many different joints in the form of uric acid crystals. These crystals are responsible for the inflammation called gouty arthritis or acute gout. The condition where there is a rise in blood’s uric acid level is called hyperuricaemia.
Another form of gout, referred to as pseudo-gout, occurs due to the accumulation of crystallized calcium in the joints, instead of uric acid.
First signs of gout attacks
In most cases, the first gout signs appear at the level of the big toe. The skin around the affected region turns yellow, appears to be stretched and bruised. The regions affected by gout become very sensitive. It even causes the sufferers can’t tolerate clothing or shoes. Gout attacks in the region of the big toe are referred to as podagra and they involve inflammation, swelling, pain and a sensation of burning. Podagra can also occur due to acquired injuries or intense physical effort that involves the lower limbs.
Apart from the region of the toes, recurrent attacks also involve pain and inflammation of the knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists and fingers. Most types of gout attacks can generate low to moderate fever and sweating.
And when gout becomes chronic, the damage to the joint is deforming and crippling. Chronic gout attacks are usually long-lasting and they occur in multiple regions of the body.
Main symptoms of gout
The main symptoms of gout are severe pain and swelling in joints. It’s the crystallized and lodged of uric acid in the joints that cause joint pain. The joint gets hot, swollen and tender. In most cases, the pain attacks seem to amplify at night causing sleeping difficulty to many patients. How long can gout pain remain? The pain may remain anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours and in some cases, even days. As the disease progresses, the duration of gout attacks can exceed 7-10 days.
Other common symptoms of gout
Other common gout symptoms include fever, discomfort, sourness, malaise, tachycardia, elevations in skin temperature, itching sensations, body aches, water retention, inflammation and intense pain of the affected area, i.e. gout in the knee cause joint pain in the knee whereas gout in the finger or toe cause pain in finger or toe. The skin in the affected regions often looks stretched. Gouty arthritis may also cause back pain since it affects the joints.
Site of gout attacks
Can you have gout of the knee joints, toe or even finger? Sure, you can. In fact, gout mostly attacks the joints of the lower body limbs, such as toes, heels, ankles and knees. In some cases, gout may attack and cause inflammation of the upper body such as elbows, spine, shoulders, fingers and hand wrists. Skin and soft tissue such as tendons and muscles can also be affected by the disease, causing swelling and decreasing of their flexibility and elasticity. Gout usually effects one joint at a time, then may move from one joint to affect another joint. The most common site for gout attacks is probably the big toe joint. Read also other possible causes of swollen toes: Swelling on Bottom of Feet at Toes, Red Itchy Toes.
Risk factor in common form of gout attacks
Most cases of gout are hereditary which occur due to genetic predisposition to the disease such as genetically acquired renal dysfunctions or abnormal uric acid levels.
- Age and gender
Gout predominantly affects middle age and elderly people, rarely occurring in young adults or children. Although it occurs in both genders, gout has the highest occurrence in men. Women usually develop the disease at more advanced stages of life, particularly after menopause.
Besides, improper diet, sedentary lifestyle and obesity may increase the risk of developing gout. Gout occurs more often in people who consume large amounts of purine-rich foods. Being overweight increase the production of uric acid and the risks of injury at the level of the joint. Smoking and high consumption of alcohol and caffeine also affect the secretion of uric acid, contributing to its retention within the body.
- Physiological abnormalities
Other factors that may facilitate the development of gout are chronic anemia, abnormal activity of the enzymes that control purine synthesis, prolonged treatments with diuretics (such as thiazide diuretics to control blood pressure), previous surgeries, abnormal kidney function, certain types of cancer, the presence of certain diseases that affect blood circulation or extreme medical treatments such as chemotherapy.
In conclusion, gout is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the joint. It can affect the knee joint, toe and even finger causing pain in the affected area. Some of the most common symptoms of gout include pain, inflammation, discomfort, swelling, fever, body aches and itching. Gout pain can remain for just a few minutes to a few hours and in worse cases, even days.
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