“Having a gout flareup in your toe is like having your toe catch on fire, and then putting out the fire by slamming it with a hammer”. ~Anonymous urgent care clinic patient, 2011, quoted at Dr. Cranquis' Mumbled Gripes.
Gouty arthritis or gout, as it is commonly known, is a common type of arthritis that causes intense pain, swelling, and stiffness in a joint.
Gout frequently affects the large joint of the big toe, but can also affect the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers.
The symptoms of gout are due to the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints and the body's response to them.
Gout is more of a clinical diagnosis. However, it can be tricky to diagnose, as its symptoms, when they do appear, are similar to those of other conditions.
Blood test to measure the levels of uric acid in the blood can be done as gout is caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream. However, people with high uric acid levels do not always experience gout. Likewise, some can develop symptoms of gout without having increased levels of uric acid in the blood.
One diagnostic test that can be done is the joint fluid test (to look for urate crystals), where fluid is extracted from the affected joint with a needle.
Ultrasound or CT scans can also be done to look for urate crystals. X-rays cannot detect gout, but may be used to rule out other causes.
Proper clinical assessment and examination is crucial. Investigations can be helpful but understanding the symptoms is pivotal before making the diagnosis of gout.