Gout is a kind of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
An attack of gout can occur suddenly, often waking you up in the middle of the night with the sensation that your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the sheet on it may seem intolerable.
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). The exact cause of hyperuricemia sometimes isn’t known, although inherited factors (genes) seem to play a role.
Uric acid may form crystals that build up in the joints. This causes the pain and other symptoms.
Fortunately, gout is treatable, and there are ways to reduce the risk that gout will recur.