What Is a Gout Attack

Gout Attack refers to the sudden flare-up of gout pain. Gout is essentially a form of arthritis and is marked by extreme discomfort in the joints. This is accompanied by repeated bouts of pain that is due to tissue inflammation in and around the joints. A gout attack is diagnosed when this pain surfaces in a very acute manner, not responding to over the counter painkillers.

Gout develops due to incomplete metabolization of uric acid in the body. This leads to unwanted accumulation of uric acid along different tissues of the body, including the joints. If gout is not treated during its initial phase, it can take a chronic form where the uric acid build-up poses a threat to the kidneys too, often leading to formation of kidney stones.

A gout attack is often diagnosed as a result of gouty arthritis where the joint inflammation is caused due to the presence of uric acid crystals in the synovial lining of the bone joints. The inflammation occurs because the WBCs or the white blood cells encircle the uric acid crystals as a protective action. This process leads to the release of certain chemicals that are inflammatory in nature. A typical gout attack pain is described as a feeling of sudden heat and stiffness in the joints often rendering the entire area red coloration.

Gout attacks can be present along several joints or just one joint. Usually the tenderness can be controlled minimally with painkillers but it takes stronger medications, like cortisone injections, to relive the pain. Usually, it takes a few days to overcome a gout attack. Gout attacks are more likely to surface among people who have been diagnosed with Hyperuricemia or high uric acid level in the blood. Gout attacks are most common in the big toe which can be very painful, often rendering the patient immobile for several days.

A gout attack doesn’t have an age or gender-based preference, i.e. it can occur across all age groups and among men and women. However, among men, gout attacks are more common among those in the age group of 40 to 70 years. Women who are beyond 50 years of age are more likely to suffer their first gout attack. In women, gout attacks are precipitated by many additional factors like the onset of menopause. It is an established fact that menopause causes osteoporosis or softening of bones by derailing the bone’s ability to absorb calcium for bone repair and regeneration.

Apart from the big toe, the ankles, heel and the mid-foot are the most affected joints in a gout attack, though the knees can also be involved. It is very rare to find the elbows or the wrists and fingers to suffer a gout attack. Sometimes, the attack can be so severe that the patient might have a fainting-like feeling and chills apart from sweating and anxiety as the skin reddens and the tendons get increasingly stiff.