Gout is a very painful form of arthritis caused by crystals that form in and around the joints. This is a type of arthritis that happens when you have too much uric acid in your blood and it forms sharp crystals in one or more of your joints. This usually happens in your big toe, but you also can have gout in your knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist, or elbow.
When there are a lot of crystals in your joints, some of them can spill out from the cartilage into the space between the two bones in a joint. The tiny, hard, sharp crystals can rub against the soft lining of the joint, called the synovium, causing a lot of pain swelling and inflammation.
During an attack of gout, the affected joint becomes very painful, tender, red, hot and swollen. Attacks usually come on very quickly, often during the night.
There are two different types of gout. When you have it and theres no single cause, its called primary gout. When you have it and its caused by something else, its known as secondary gout. Secondary gout can be caused by either chronic kidney disease and long-term use of medications that affect how well your kidneys can remove urate from your body.
Drinking too much alcohol, especially beer and spirits, can increase your urate levels and your chances of triggering a gout attack. Beer is particularly bad, as it contains a lot of purines.
If you take medication to lower your urate levels, and have a healthy diet and lifestyle, most of the damage and complications caused by gout can be stopped.