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What Is Gouty Arthritis?

One of the Most Painful Types of Arthritis Explained

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Updated May 30, 2014

Gout in X-ray of left foot
Hellerhoff/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Definition: Gouty arthritis refers to a form of arthritis caused by deposits of needle-like crystals of uric acid.

The term arthritis refers to more than 100 types of different rheumatic diseases. Gouty arthritis accounts for approximately 5% of all cases of arthritis. Gouty arthritis is one of the most painful rheumatic diseases.

Gouty arthritis usually strikes a single joint, most commonly the big toe (about 75% of people are affected at least once), however, it can also affect the:

Gouty arthritis is rare in children and young adults. Men are more likely to develop gouty arthritis than women.

The condition pseudogout (also called CPPD), can sometimes be confused with gouty arthritis because it produces similar symptoms. However, in CPPD, deposits are made up of calcium phosphate crystals, not uric acid.

Four Stages Of Gouty Arthritis

  • Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia: In this stage, which usually doesn't require treatment, a person has elevated blood uric acid levels but no other symptoms.
  • Acute Gout / Acute Gouty Arthritis: In this stage, hyperuricemia has caused deposits of uric acid crystals in joint spaces, leading to gouty attacks.
  • Interval / Intercritical: In this stage, the periods between acute gouty attacks, a person has no symptoms.
  • Chronic Tophaceous Gout: In this stage, the disease has caused permanent damage. With proper treatment, most never progress to this advanced stage.

Also Known As: gout, the disease of kings, the king of diseases

Common Misspellings: goaty, gotuy, gowty,

Examples: An attack of gouty arthritis caused my toe to become very painful, red and inflamed.

Source: NIH Publication No. 02-5027

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