There are two types of gout symptoms. Acute symptoms come on suddenly and occur for a relatively short period of time. Chronic symptoms are the result of repeated gout attacks over a long period.
Pain, redness, and swelling are the chief symptoms of a gout attack. These often come on at night and wake the sufferer from sleep. Even a light touch to the joint can be excruciating and it can be difficult to move or bend. These symptoms typically occur in only one joint at a time, most commonly in the big toe. The joints of the feet, hands, knees, wrists, and ankles are frequently affected as well. Symptoms come on suddenly and are most severe for 12 to 24 hours, but they may last as long as 10 days.
The pain and inflammation associated with gout attacks typically disappear completely between attacks. However, repeated attacks of acute gout can cause more permanent damage.
Nodules Under the Skin
Untreated gout can cause deposits of urate crystals under the skin (tophi). These feel like hard nodules and they become painful and inflamed during gout attacks. As tophi build up in joints, they can cause deformities and chronic pain, limit mobility, and eventually can destroy the joints entirely. The tophi may also partially erode through the skin and ooze with pus.
Urate crystals can also build up in the kidneys. This can cause kidney stones and eventually affect the kidney’s ability to filter waste products out of the body.