Gout Diagnosis

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on October 20, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA on October 20, 2014

Diagnosis and Doctors for Gout

There are many forms of arthritis. Most types share common symptoms, including joint pain and inflammation. However, different types of arthritis require different types of treatment. What works for osteoarthritis may not help your gouty arthritis. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis is essential.

Diagnosing Gout

Gout is usually diagnosed after an acute attack of gout symptoms. Many doctors will not make a positive diagnosis of gout until the patient has had at least two episodes of acute symptoms.

After a physical examination and medical history, your doctor may order tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests for Gout

Uric Acid Blood Test

The first step in diagnosing gout is usually a uric acid blood test. High uric acid levels are associated with gout. However, it’s important to note that you can have high uric acid levels and not have gout. In addition, blood uric acid may be normal during an acute attack. This test is a good starting point. It can be used to monitor your progress in lowering your uric acid level, but it’s not diagnostic by itself.

Joint Aspiration

A joint aspiration is usually the next step. This test involves removing a sample of the fluid from the affected joint and examining it under a microscope for urate crystals.

X-Rays

If you have persistent joint disease or tophi under the skin and your doctor suspects chronic gout, an X-ray may help with the diagnosis. This will show if there are lesions or permanent damage.

Doctors Who Treat Gout

Primary Care Physician

A primary care doctor is usually the doctor who treats gout. They can order uric acid blood tests, perform joint aspirations, and prescribe medications to treat the disease.

Rheumatologist

A rheumatologist is a physician with special training in treating diseases of the joints and connective tissues. A rheumatologist can provide more specialized care if your gout is especially severe or involves joint damage.

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