Gout causes sudden severe joint pain. See a GP for treatment to help during an attack and to stop further attacks.

See a GP if you have:

  • sudden severe pain in any joint – usually the big toe, or fingers, wrists, elbows or knees
  • red, hot, swollen skin over the affected joint

Gout doesn’t cause lasting damage to joints if you get treatment straight away.

Ask for an urgent appointment or call 111 if:

  • the pain is getting much worse and you have a very high temperature (you feel hot and shivery)

This could mean you have an infection inside the joint.

Treatment to reduce pain and swelling

Attacks of gout are usually treated with anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen.

If the gout doesn’t improve after 3 to 4 days, you might be given steroids as tablets or an injection.

Treatment to prevent gout coming back

Gout can come back every few months or years. It can come back more often over time if not treated.

If you have frequent attacks or tests show you have a high level of uric acid in your blood, your GP might prescribe medicine called allopurinol or febuxostat.

This is used to lower the levels of uric acid and needs to be taken in the long term.

Things you can do to stop gout coming back

Making lifestyle changes might mean you can stop or reduce further attacks.

Things that can trigger a gout attack

You might get an attack if you’re very stressed or have had an illness.

If you injure or bruise a joint and it’s more painful than you would expect after a minor bump, it could be an attack coming on.

Get treatment straight away if you feel an attack coming on.

Who gets gout

Gout sometimes runs in families.

It’s more common in men, especially as they get older.

Other people at risk include:

  • women after the menopause
  • people who take medicines such as diuretics (water tablets) for blood pressure, or have high levels of cholesterol
  • people who are overweight and who drink alcohol, especially beer

Complications of gout

It’s rare to get lots of attacks, but if you do, you can develop permanent damage to the joint (chronic gout).

Chronic gout can also cause tiny white lumps (tophi) to appear under your skin, especially on your ears, fingers or elbows.

This is where urate crystals form under the skin. They can be painful.

You can get kidney stones if your uric acid levels are very high, so you’ll need treatment to reduce the levels.