Gout is a rheumatic disease and its symptoms can be extremely painful. Shard-like deposits of uric acid can build up in connective tissue, such as in the joints between bones, and cause inflammatory arthritis. The primary noticeable symptoms of gout are lumpy uric acid deposits around the joints and the edge of the ear.
About 75% of gout patients experience pain in the big toe. Joint pains in the foot such as in the ankles, heels and instep are also common symptoms, as are joint pains in the knees. Gout can also cause joint pain in the elbows, wrists and fingers. About 5% of all gout cases are arthritis related.
Sometimes, inflammatory symptoms are not actually caused by gout, but of a false gout called chondrocalcinosis, or pseudo-gout. Calcium, not uric acid, builds up in pseudo-gout. Calcium phosphate crystals are not as serious as uric acid crystal build up is to the body.
Uric acid deposits are serious symptoms of gout, as the kidneys can be affected and kidney stones may result. Uric acid occurs in the body when purines are being broken down. Purines are found in many foods including liver, anchovies, dried legumes and gravy and are also part of human tissue. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the bloodstream and is eliminated from the body in urine. If the uric acid is built up too much and not eliminated, hyperuricemia, or an excess of uric acid, results.
While hyperuricemia is one of the symptoms of gout, it is usually detectable only through medical testing. Hyperuricemia itself is not cause for alarm; it is only harmful when the excess uric acid builds up and forms into crystals in the body. It is the painful, lumpy build up of crystallized uric acid around joints that is one of the major serious symptoms of the condition.
Besides the pain caused by the uric acid deposits, some other symptoms of gout are stiffness and redness around the joints. A feeling of heat in the joints is also one of the more common symptoms. Stress can bring on symptoms, as can alcohol, drugs and/or other illnesses. Gout attacks may occur months or years apart, but the attacks can become more intense and more frequent over time.
Between the attacks, gout sufferers may experience no symptoms of gout and this is called the "interval stage." Kidney damage is one of the internal symptoms and often occurs in the gout sufferer after ten years or more of living with the disease. Chronic tohpaceous gout is an advanced stage of gout that can be very disabling.