What is Gouty Arthritis?
Gouty arthritis, commonly referred to as gout, is a condition characterized by excessive uric acid levels in the blood. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of purines inside the body. Purines are commonly found in drinks and foods such as beer, wine, beans, anchovies, and peas. When too much uric acid accumulates in the blood stream, it forms crystals. These crystals usually get deposited in many tissues, particularly involving several joints in the body.
The most common appendage affected by gouty arthritis is the big toe. Gout may also affect the elbows, ankles, knees, wrists and fingers. Symptoms of gouty arthritis are sharp pain, redness, tenderness, and swelling of the affected joint. Most of these symptoms usually appear at night. Almost all gout patients complain that the pain is unbearable and often gets worse with movement.
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 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.