Gout can cause sudden, burning pain; stiffness or swelling in the knee joint; and can eventually harm joints, tendons and tissues if left untreated, according to WebMD. Gout usually occurs in the big toe, and the condition occurs more often in men than women.
Gout occurs when the body deposits uric acid as needle-like crystals in joints and tendons, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Uric acid normally dissolves in the blood and passes from the body in urine, but if the body does not eliminate enough uric acid, it builds in the blood and causes a condition known as hyperuricemia. Eating too many foods with high levels of purines, including liver, dried beans and anchovies, can aggravate hyperuricemia and lead to gout.
Gout has four stages, including asymptomatic hyperuricemia, acute gout, intercritical gout and chronic tophaceous gout, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. A patient in the asymptomatic hyperuricemia stage has elevated uric acid levels and typically does not require treatment. In the acute gout stage, a patient experiences intense, sudden pain from uric acid crystals in the joints. The intercritical gout stage occurs between acute gout attacks, and the patient does not experience any symptoms in this stage. The chronic tophaceous gout stage is the most debilitating phase, and it can lead to permanent damage of the patient's joints and kidneys.