What Are The Symptoms Associated With Gout?

Gout commonly develops after a number of years of build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints and surrounding tissues. If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints (synovial fluid), uric acid crystals will develop. Men who are between the ages of 40 and 50 are more prone to develop gout; women are more prone to develop gout after menopause. Gout also rarely affects children or young adults, although I was a young adult when I had my first gout attack.

The most common symptom of gout is sudden and severe pain in one or more joints; it may be swollen and you may also feel burning and stiffness in that area. typically your big toe, the most common joint involved, followed by the ankle or foot, the knee, the finger and only 10% of gout sufferers get an attack in the wrist or elbow but 11% get a gout attack in more than one part of the body at the same time and thank God for that. While the first attacks usually involve only one or two joints, multiple joints can be involved simultaneously over time. Other joints such as in the fingers, heels, and insteps could get affected too.

Gout flares usually strike abruptly, at night, and without any warning, although they can occur at any time. The pain is likely to be most severe within the first 12 to 24 hours after it begins and an attack can last anywhere between a few hours to 3 weeks. During the gout attack, the affected area becomes very tender and the skin becomes red or purplish and shiny.

Tart Cherry Extract for Gout

Another symptom includes swelling in and around the affected area, the inflammation causing it to be very hot and very sensitive; even a slight touch makes it extremely painful.  In some people, the acute pain is so intense that even a bed sheet on the toe causes severe pain. If gout is left untreated, it is more likely to affect more than one joint as it advances. Furthermore, 62% of gout sufferers experience a repeat attack within a year. As inflammation subsides in the affected joint, you may feel the skin be itchy and flaky causing it to peel.

By the time you have the symptoms of a gout attack, uric acid has been building up in your blood, and the uric acid deposits have been building on one or more of your joints. Also watch out after having an illness or surgery, the chances of an attack are higher. Some people may not experience gout as many painful attacks but rather develop chronic gout, repeated episodes of pain and inflammation, which may involve more than one joint.

What’s scary about gout is that some people who have it do not experience any symptoms in the beginning even though there are already elevated levels of uric acid in their body. They’ll only know it later on when the gout attack is already happening. These individuals do not require as serious treatment as those patients who have acute or chronic gout.  

Patients with acute gout symptoms will typically experience severe pain within 12 to 24 hours of the attack. This pain can last for as long as a week or two. Chronic gout in older adults may be less painful and can be confused with other forms of arthritis. Those with chronic gout develop joint damage and loss of motion in the joints. Tophi are lumps below the skin around joints or in other places. They may drain chalky material.

Tophi usually develop only after a patient has had the disease for many years on the hands, elbows, ears or Achilles tendon (back of the ankle). In addition, later on gout sufferers are more prone to have kidney problems like kidney stones, that’s something you definitely want to avoid since it is extremely painful. Note that people with certain conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol are at a higher risk of developing gout. To help manage your gout over the long term, it is important to keep your uric acid level below 6 mg/dL.

To avoid a gout attack, you need to avoid consuming certain food items that are high in purines. When you consume these, it will only elevate your uric acid causing you to have a higher chance of experiencing a gout attack. Here are the worst offenders that increase your risk:


  • Beer
  • Red meat
  • Organ meats
  • Shellfish
  • Sugary beverages
  • Desserts


You need to pay special attention to your diet making sure you are avoiding or limiting your consumption of these. In addition, there are certain factors to your current health that could increase your risk. If you have a family history of gout, are overweight or obese, diabetic, have metabolic syndrome, or have recently undergone surgery, you are at more risk for having gout. 


Managing Your Gout Symptoms

Gout symptoms can be prevented by making lifestyle changes such as eating a low-purine diet, getting more exercise, drinking more water, and taking medication. The last point is important because this is what will greatly help you avoid those painful gout attacks.

There are two types of medication given to patients with gout. One is to treat a gout attack and another to reduce uric acid levels in the body. To treat a gout attack, you may be prescribed NSAIDs such as Advil, Naprosyn, or Motrin. Then there’s Colchicine which can minimize gout pain. For the inflammation caused by the gout attack, you will be given corticosteroids.

For long term use, your doctor will give you medications that can either block uric acid production or help your body to remove uric acid more efficiently. These medications have different side effects so you want to talk to your doctor first before you start taking them. 

There are also natural remedies you can do at home to ease your gout symptoms. This includes tart cherries, ginger, apple cider vinegar, milk thistle seeds, magnesium, and celery. There are more remedies for gout out there but these are considered to be the top ones. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various remedies. As long as you do your research ahead and talk to your doctor about it first.

What has your experience been like during a gout attack? How do you cope with the symptoms? Share your stories in the comments below.

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    30 replies to "Gout Symptoms"

    • Rhett

      I have had this scalp “tenderness” for years. I put it in quotes because it is an odd feeling very akin to a low level of shingles which I’ve also had before. I have the same feeling more dominantly at my knees accompanied by a numbness spreading across much of my calves and thighs. Similar feelings are developing at the back of my neck, my forearms, and other locations.

      I also have some very tender nerves, very specific locations that when tapped lightly cause extreme pain much like tapping a goutic joint would cause. One such spot on the side of the tip of my index finger is very annoying because of how easy it is to bump it on something. When not bumped, there is no feeling of pain at the spot. It never has redness or swelling.

      Sciatica is also becoming a persistent problem. I feel as though there is a general neuropathy going on.

      I am 54. My first gout attack was in my 20s. I take allopurinol and have not had an acute attack in years though I had many involving both feet, ankles, and knees before I learned my lessons about never, ever letting my allopurinol regiment lapse. My uric acid levels are good. But, there have been signs of progression such as a few little tophi appearing on my earlobes in recent years.

      Due to a severe injury to both shoulders when I was 31, at 33 I had a nerve conduction study to attempt to figure out where the nerves in my arms may be getting pinched (continuous pain and tingling in nerve going to outer three fingers). They were not able to find a pinch point but were very puzzled that my nerves seemed to be generally slowed in signal propagation and checked a leg to verify.

      Is it likely that this more general neuropathy is explained by gout/allopurinol or should I be spending the resources to pursue other explanations?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Rhett!

        Thank you for posting!

        Very difficult to say. I’d explore several opinions from different rheumatologists and take it from there.

        Good luck!

    • Richard

      Please help. I’m no stranger to pain, I’m waiting on knee replacements have sciatica and damaged vertebrae in lower back, and had gout flare ups from time to time in big toe, in my heel etc…a pain you truly never forget, now my wife is having gout flareups but this last flare up was in her right ankle, it’s been 6 weeks it’s still swollen, not going away or easing, my question is does gout set in that long? or could this be something else?

    • Kyle

      I got my first (what appears to be) gout attack in early June. It was in my big toe and extraordinarily painful. The doctor gave me pedrosone and it helped quite a bit, but not totally. Then she gave me more… again, almost knocked it out, but not totally. Then I took colchicine for 2 rounds… I’ve been off of it now for a few days. It’s been about 5 weeks and the pain has been mostly gone for the last 3 and a half, but it fluctuates. The toe isn’t really painful but stiff and still a tiny bit puffy.,, Is it normal for the toe to stay stiff for so long? I haven’t measured my levels in a couple weeks, but they were between 6 and 6.7 when things were at there worst. I guess I’m just not sure if this is still a flare up, or if this is just the after effects… Thanks!

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Kyle!

        Hard to say, best to visit a rheumatologist and see what they say. Sometimes GPs miss the mark. Good luck!

    • NIMREH

      Is it possible that when you have gout or have elevated uric acid, you may suffer not only with joint pains but also with scalp tenderness and sensitivity?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Yes, redness, itchiness, scalp tenderness can be a side effect. Especially if you are on allopurinol.

    • Rhods

      For me, it all started last year in March, symptoms that most people don’t get. I started having my left foot itch every evening from 6.00pm and at night, this was also accompanied by some heat in the foot too. I didnt know what it was and ignored it until 2 weeks ago when my big toe from the same foot started giving me some pain at night. The pain has not been severe though. For the last 5 years, my diet was a lot of meat, very few veggies and some flat bread made from wheat. More than a week ago, I stopped eating any kind of meat and the pain is very mild but the itching is still there and to make things even worse, my left hand and especially my finger tips are itching. Is there any medicine for getting rid of this problem that has robbed me off my peace?

    • Umer usman

      Hi my name is Umer I am a national Rugby Player. I am so much into sports, I do regular exercise every day very hardcore, I am 37 now I always have a high uric acid in me last was about 8.7. Now I have started to take care of myself and I am having regular tablet for last one mouth gouric 40 Mg. My problem is I have many gout attacks up until now but I never felt it in my toe, my feet always burn especially in the summer. I slipped my disc aa well and now day in have a bad hamstring as will for last 4 months which is not going away, the most painful part is my upper part of my knee that hurts and goes away second day. I feel new symptoms in my body like my fingers get still, my shoulder gets stuck, I am not eating any type of meat. I eat rice and some vegetables, as I never eat vegetables before. I eat a lot of junk food and I feel a little sensation in my toe as well but not pain. My feet burn a lot. Please tell me, my uric acid is not lowering and I feel I need to have a checkup again. I have a 3.7 mm stone in my right kidney as well. Please tell me what I should do and how should I keep my gout attack away. Thank you!

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Umar!

        It sounds like you have a bad round of the gout. If you are suffering from kidney stones too, that means you need to get your uric acid under control. Diet will help but not as much as medication and treatment from your doctor. You need to visit your doctor and treat it properly. I am not a doctor and cannot give you any advice on medication. All I can give you is dietary advice, so best to drink lots of water only for now. Eat only vegetables, legumes, whole grains breads, pastas and rice for now only. Avoid all meat, processed food, junk food like you mention, alcohol, sugary beverages, sugar in general and even dairy if I were you. Until your uric acid is under control and you no longer feel those symptoms. You have to do extreme stuff when you are suffering like that.

        Good luck!

    • Natalie

      I have had gout since I was 9 and now I’m 41. For many years my gout has travelled around my joints. I found out that reflexology helps with my feet joints. I go swimming as it’s low impact on my joints. I started cod liver oil and vitamin B1 and B2, I drink a glass of cherry juice every morning and night. In 4 years I have not had a full blown gout attack. I still take allopurinol.

      But I have tried many things. I know that people who suffer with gout and rheumatoid arthritis lack vitamins and are anemic. Now I hold down a full time job and have a child. All because I looked into different therapies. Plus I have acupuncture as well every 6 months. If you pamper and look after your feet it does help break the crystals up. Every night I rub my feet and toes with a moisturising cream. It works for me!

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    • Shankar

      Hi Spiro,

      I live in Canada the way uric acid is measured is different from USA. Anyways after reviewing your web site, I have a few questions.

      1. In your opinion does hypertension cause gout or the other way round ? I am currently on hypertension medication.

      2. Your supplement Nutrigout. Do you know of any side effects by using this supplement along with the hypertension medication?


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    • Orlando

      thank you, lastweek i went to a doctor on our public health clinic and as you are suggesting, dr. gave me a medicine allipurinol 100 for 3 months once a day and after 3 months i will have my blood test for uric acid level thank you, keep that information coming im ao blessed i found ur page, i can now understand and manage my gout

    • Orlando

      hello im orlando from phillipines. i suffered from gout since i was 23 and now im 25, since my family cnt afford to bring me to reumatologist my feet always hurt and it came the time that i was almost imobilized. im always searching for the cure but i always failed. i want to thank you for this pages because it educates me and helos me understand more about my gout,

      an you tell me wht hapown to me when my gout atack not on my feet but on my back and when this hapens to me i cried because i cannot get up even if i give all my capacity to get up

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Orlando! You need to go see a doctor so he can put you on Allopurinol to manage your uric acid levels in your blood. Do this as soon as you can!

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