Skip to Content




is a disease that causes severe joint pain and stiffness. Acute gout pain starts suddenly, gets worse quickly, and stops on its own. Acute gout can become chronic and cause permanent damage to your joints.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain in one or more of your joints that you cannot tolerate.
  • You have a fever or redness that spreads beyond the joint area.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new symptoms, such as a rash, after you start gout treatment.
  • Your joint pain and swelling do not go away, even after treatment.
  • You are not urinating as much or as often as you usually do.
  • You have trouble taking your gout medicines.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Stages of gout:

  • Hyperuricemia starts with high levels of uric acid. Hyperuricemia is not gout, but it increases your risk for gout. You may have no symptoms at this stage, and it usually does not need treatment.
  • Acute gouty arthritis starts with a sudden attack of pain and swelling, usually in 1 joint. The attack may last from a few days to 2 weeks.
  • Intercritical gout is the time between attacks. You may go months or years without another attack. You will not have joint pain or stiffness, but this does not mean your gout is cured. You will still need treatment to prevent chronic gout.
  • Chronic tophaceous gout develops if gout is not treated. Large amounts of uric acid crystals, called tophi, collect around your joints. The crystals can destroy or deform the joints. Gout attacks occur more often, and last hours to weeks. More than 1 joint may be painful and swollen. At this stage, gout symptoms do not go away on their own.


can make your symptoms stop sooner, prevent attacks, and decrease your risk of joint damage. You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Gout medicine decreases joint pain and swelling. It may also be given to prevent new gout attacks.
  • Steroids reduce inflammation and can help your joint stiffness and pain during gout attacks.
  • Uric acid medicine may be given to reduce uric acid production, or to pass more uric acid when you urinate.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
  • Surgery called a bone graft may be needed for tophi that are painful or infected. Bone in the joint may be replaced with bone taken from another place in your body. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about bone graft surgery.

Manage gout:

  • Rest your painful joint so it can heal.
  • Ice decreases pain and swelling. Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and cover it with a towel. Put the ice on your painful joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour.
  • Elevate your joint above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease pain and swelling. Prop your painful joint on pillows to keep it above your heart comfortably.

Prevent gout attacks:

  • Do not eat high-purine foods. These foods include meats, seafood, asparagus, spinach, cauliflower, and some types of beans. Healthcare providers may tell you to eat more low-fat milk products, such as yogurt. Milk products may decrease your risk of gout attacks. Vitamin C and coffee may also help. Ask your healthcare provider about the best food plan for you.
  • Drink water as directed. Water helps remove uric acid from your body. Ask your healthcare provider how much water to drink each day.
  • Manage your weight. Weight loss may decrease the amount of uric acid in your body. Exercise can help you lose weight. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercises for you.
  • Control your blood sugar level. Keep your blood sugar level in a normal range. This can help prevent gout attacks.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can trigger a gout attack. Ask your healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.