Common gout symptoms -- which include pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness -- often occur in the joint of the big toe. However, some people also experience symptoms in the instep, ankles, heels, knees, and wrists. Early gout attacks usually subside in 3 to 10 days; but over time, symptoms can last for much longer. Some of the factors that may trigger an acute gout attack include stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or the presence of another illness.
Signs and Symptoms of Gout Explained
When high levels of uric acid in the blood lead to deposits of uric acid inside a joint, a person can develop gout. Symptoms of gout may include:
- Sudden onset of intense joint pain
- Swelling in the joints
- Extreme tenderness in the joint area
- Redness and heat at the joint
- Stiffness in the joint.
Symptoms often occur in the joint of the big toe. However, gout can also affect the instep, ankles, heels, knees, and wrists.
An acute gout attack commonly occurs at night and can be triggered by stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or the presence of another illness.
This highly accurate description of acute symptoms was written by an Englishman, Thomas Sydenham, in the 17th century:
"The victim goes to bed in good health. About two o'clock in the morning, he is awakened by a severe pain in the great toe; more rarely in the heel, ankle, or instep. The pain is like that of a dislocation. [It] becomes more intense. So exquisite and lively meanwhile is the feeling of the part affected, that it cannot bear the weight of the bed-clothes nor the jar of a person walking in the room. The night is passed in torture."
How Long Do Gout Symptoms Last?
Early gout attacks usually subside within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment. With treatment, symptoms can improve within 48 hours.