Symptoms and Diagnosis

Attacks Usually Start at Night

Different types of arthritis have different symptoms. In general, people with most forms of arthritis have pain and stiffness in their joints. Gout typically attacks one joint at a time, and the attacks usually begin at night.

Hyperuricemia -- high levels of uric acid in the body -- contributes to arthritis that develops in one day, producing a swollen, red, and painful joint.

Where Gout Usually Occurs

Gout normally attacks joints in the lower part of the body, such as the knee, ankle or big toe. For many people the joints in the big toe are the first to be attacked. In fact, sometime during the course of the disease, many people will develop gout in the big toe.

Testing for Gout

To confirm a diagnosis of gout, the doctor inserts a needle into the inflamed joint and draws a sample of synovial fluid, the substance that lubricates a joint. A laboratory technician places some of the fluid on a slide and looks for monosodium urate crystals under a microscope. If crystals are found in the joint fluid, the person usually has gout.