How Does Gout Develop?
Gout develops gradually over the years from the buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints and the neighboring tissues. Your body will respond to the accumulation of uric acid with an inflammatory response: gout attack. During a gout attack you will feel moderate pain, redness, and swelling in a single joint. The symptoms often worsen before disappearing. The big toe is commonly affected by gout, a condition known as podagra.
Mild attacks may last for a day or two before the symptoms diminish. These attacks are often labeled as “tendonitis” or “sprain”. Severe attacks can potentially last up to several weeks. Once you have a gout attack, you’re likely to get another one within 6 months to 2 years after your first attack. However, some people may never experience another gout attack.
The Four Stages of Gout
Fist stage: Hyperuricemia
Hyperuricemia is a condition where the uric levels in the blood rise, but the symptoms of gout are not present. Not everyone with hyperuricemia will progress to the second stage.
Second stage: Acute gout arthritis
During this stage, uric acid crystals begin to deposit in the joints, often targeting a single joint such as the big toe, wrist, finger, or ankle. Your body will respond to the presence of uric acid crystals with a sudden inflammatory reaction, known as a gout attack. Gout attacks last from couple days up to several weeks and may reoccur within 2 years.
Third stage: Interval gout
If you have had gout once, you’re likely to get it again. With interval gout, no symptoms will appear in the period of time between acute gout attacks. However, for many people this symptom-free period shortens as the frequency of gout attacks increase. Some gout attacks may affect more than one joint as the disease worsens to the fourth stage.
Fourth stage: Chronic tophaceous gout
If symptoms of gout appear frequently for 10 years or more, it’s likely to become chronic and affect more than one joint. You may notice that there is no period of time between the gout attacks. This stage of gout is usually confused with other types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis. During this stage, gritty nodules called tophi appear from the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the body.
Tophi are firm to touch, cream or yellow in color, and appear under skin that often becomes stretched and red. Formation of tophi can be crippling if it forms in the cartilage of an ear or the tissues surrounding a joint. However, with advances in treatments for gout, this stage of gout has become uncommon.
Find out how you can treat your gout today!