It is characterized by deposition of needle-like crystals of uric acid (one of the waste product in body) in joint spaces, connective tissue or both. This reaction leads to inflammation which causes extreme pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness in the affected joint, most commonly the big toe. Gout is caused by either increased production of uric acid or failure of the body to eliminate uric acid.

Some of its unique features are :

  • Obese men are more likely to develop gout than women and men between 40-50 years of age are commonly affected.
  • It is often episodic in nature. A joint that seems perfectly normal suddenly becomes very painful, red and swollen. Relapses and remissions are common.
  • There is asymmetrical affection.
  • It usually affects the big (or first) toe.
  • Causes inflammation resulting in pain and swelling of joints where the joint is red, warm and tender. In later stages ligaments (bands of cord like tissue that join bone to bone) and bone ends are infiltrated by the chalky deposits which form ‘tophi’.
  • Can cause development of kidney stones as a result of uric acid deposition.
  • It is called as ‘disease of kings’ because of its association with rich food and alcohol consumption.