A Consequence of Uric Acid Crystallization and Deposition
Gout attacks typically present suddenly, and often at night. Manifestations include severe pain, redness and swelling in the joints, most commonly in the big toe, but also the ankle, foot and knee. Patients experiencing a gout flare-up may also have physical deformity, lumps and stiffness in their joints at the site of the attack.
Gout occurs when uric acid, a normal metabolic waste product, builds up in the blood leading to hyperuricemia. Over time, excess uric acid precipitates as crystals in the joints, causing the gout attacks. Crystals that form in the kidney can also lead to painful stones and kidney disease.
Uric acid is a heterocyclic compound derivative of purines and a normal byproduct of cellular metabolism. Purines are found in some beverages and foods such as shellfish, red meat, high-fructose corn syrup, and alcohol.
Hyperuricemia may result from a diet heavy in purines. Some medications can also increases the risk, as can conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. More than 8 million people in the US alone suffer from gout each year1 at a cost of over $7 billion.2
1. Zhu Y, Pandya BJ, Choi HK. Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2008. Arthritis Rheum. 2011; 63(10):3136–3141.
2. Cisternas MG , Murphy LB, Pasta DJ, Yelin EH, Helmick CG. Annual medical care expenditures among US adults with gout, 2005–2011. Arthritis Rheum. 2014;66(S10):S888.