Gout is a type of arthritis caused by an accumulation of urate crystals in the joints, and it can cause redness, stiffness, swelling, intense joint pain and lingering discomfort in the hands, explains Mayo Clinic. Gout can also affect the wrists, knees and ankles, but usually it affects the big toe.
The onset of gout is sudden and often occurs overnight, Mayo Clinic says. Affected joints can be so tender that even a very slight pressure can be agonizing. The urate crystals that cause gout form because of excessive levels of uric acid in the blood. Certain foods and drinks increase the risk of developing gout, including excessive meat, seafood, beverages sweetened with fructose and alcoholic beverages, especially beer. Obesity also makes developing gout more likely, as do diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease.
Several medications can help with gout, including colchicine, corticosteroids and NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen, states Mayo Clinic. Other medications can help by blocking uric acid production or assisting uric acid removal. Left untreated, gout may cause tophi, urate crystals that feel like lumps beneath the skin, to form. Urate crystals can also accumulate in the urinary tract and cause kidney stones. Gout can occur just once or it can be a recurring condition, with some people suffering attacks several times a year.