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Updated 23 November 2023 | Approved By

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Gout – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


Gout, a common form of arthritis, is marked by sudden and intense joint pain caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals. While it frequently strikes the big toe, it can impact other joints, resulting in swelling and discomfort. With its roots in a combination of dietary habits, genes, and lifestyle factors, managing gout requires a comprehensive and individualized approach.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 0.8% of Australians live with gout (approximately ~200,000 people) [1]. However, the rate of gout increases with age. About 11% of men and 4.6% of women over the age of 85 are diagnosed with this condition [1].

At 24-7MedCare, we provide accessible healthcare services, including virtual consultations, to assist individuals with gout. Our experienced GPs can offer guidance, diagnosis, and treatment options within the convenience of your own home.


What is Gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by the sudden onset of intense joint pain, most commonly affecting the big toe. This condition results from the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation and discomfort.


Signs and Symptoms of Gout

Early recognition of gout symptoms is key to timely intervention and effective management. This section will highlight the importance of being aware of early warning signs, allowing individuals to seek medical attention and implement lifestyle changes promptly. This section provides a comprehensive overview of these symptoms to help individuals recognize and address them early on.

  • Intense joint pain, particularly at the base of the big toe. Other joints affected include the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers.
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Tenderness, particularly with touch or pressure
  • Limited range of motion due to swelling or pain
  • Red or purple skin, particularly over the affected joint(s)
  • Increased pain during the night
  • Peeling and itching, particularly over the affected joint


Causes of Gout

Gout, an inflammatory arthritis, emerges with sudden and severe joint pain, presenting an intricate health puzzle. Its roots lie in a combination of dietary influences, genetic factors, and lifestyle choices, forming a complex narrative of uric acid crystal formation [2].

Role of Uric Acid

To understand the causes of gout, we first need to explore the role of uric acid in the body. This section will delve into the metabolic processes that lead to the production of uric acid and its connection to gout development.

Hyperuricemia, or elevated uric acid levels, is a key factor in gout. We'll explore the various factors contributing to hyperuricemia, including dietary choices, genetic predispositions, and lifestyle habits.

Risk Factors for Gout

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing gout. Understanding these risk factors is crucial for preventive measures and early intervention to manage or reduce the risk of developing gout. These include:

  • Consuming foods high in purines, such as red meat, organ meats, seafood, and certain alcoholic beverages
  • Being obese
  • Having a family history of gout
  • Being male, particularly over the age of 30, or women after menopause
  • Having certain medications, such as those for kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Some medications, including diuretics and those that suppress the immune system
  • Exposure to lead
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Having a sedentary lifestyle


Gout Diagnosis and Testing

Diagnosing gout involves a combination of physical examination and laboratory tests. This section provides an overview of the diagnostic process, emphasizing the importance of a thorough assessment [3].

Physical Examination

A physical assessment may be important for diagnosing gout. Your GP will look out for positive signs such as joint tenderness, swelling, and redness.

Laboratory Tests for Uric Acid Levels

Laboratory tests play a vital role in confirming a gout diagnosis. This part of the blog will explain the significance of measuring uric acid levels in the blood and synovial fluid analysis.

Imaging Tests (X-rays, Ultrasound)

Beyond laboratory tests, imaging is instrumental in assessing the extent of joint damage and the presence of uric acid crystals. We'll delve into the role of X-rays and ultrasounds in the diagnostic process.


Gout Treatment

Gout treatment involves a two-fold approach: addressing immediate pain and inflammation during acute attacks and implementing long-term strategies to prevent recurrent episodes. Lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes and weight management, alongside medications like NSAIDs and urate-lowering drugs, play pivotal roles in managing gout and improving overall quality of life. Seeking a balanced and personalized treatment plan with your GP is crucial for effective gout management [4].

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle modifications are a cornerstone of gout management. This includes dietary adjustments (reducing foods with high purines), adequate hydration, weight management, and exercise.

Medications for Gout

Medications play a key role in managing gout, targeting both the acute pain of flare-ups and the underlying causes of elevated uric acid levels. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help alleviate pain and inflammation during gout attacks. Colchicine is another option for symptom relief, while urate-lowering therapies (ULTs) aim to lower uric acid levels over the long term, preventing future flare-ups. It's essential to consult with a GP to determine the most appropriate medication regimen based on individual health factors and the specific needs of each patient.


Gout Complications

Gout complications extend beyond the acute pain of flare-ups, encompassing long-term consequences that can significantly impact an individual's health [5]. From the formation of tophi, which may cause joint damage and skin changes, to the potential involvement of organs such as the kidneys, understanding and addressing these complications is essential for comprehensive gout management and improved overall well-being.

  • If left untreated, gout can lead to the formation of tophi, hard nodules consisting of uric acid crystals. The formation of tophi can lead to other complications, such as joint pain, the risk of infection, and further joint damage.
  • Joint damage from chronic inflammation.
  • Reduced quality of life due to poorer mobility and pain
  • Poor kidney health
  • Poor cardiovascular health




  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Gout Snapshot. Retrieved from 
  2. Richette, P., Doherty, M., Pascual, E., Barskova, V., Becce, F., Castañeda-Sanabria, J., ... & Bardin, T. (2017). 2016 updated EULAR evidence-based recommendations for the management of gout. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 76(1), 29-42. 
  3. Day, R. O., Kamel, B., Kannangara, D. R., Williams, K. M., Graham, G. G., & Graudins, L. V. (2016). The management of gout: much has changed. Australian Prescriber, 39(3), 92-96. 
  4. Jansen, T. L., Reinders, M. K., van Roon, E. N., Brouwers, J. R., & van de Laar, M. A. (2018). The management of gout: Much has changed. Australian Journal of General Practice, 47(6), 359-364. 
  5. Roddy, E., Zhang, W., & Doherty, M. (2017). The changing epidemiology of gout. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 13(8), 442-451.