When gout causes severe joint pain, it is called a gout attack, a gout flare-up, or acute gout. Pain is typically accompanied by extreme joint tenderness, swelling, warmth, and skin redness. The symptoms may come on suddenly and without warning.
Experts estimate gout will affect 4% of Americans during their lifetimes, and often occurs in men and people over age 60. Typically, only one joint is affected at a time, but it is possible to have several joints affected during a gout attack.
Joints Affected by Gout
Gout can affect any joint, but some joints are more likely to be affected than others. Joints commonly affected include the big toe, the foot’s instep, heel, ankle, and knee. Less often, gout affects the elbow, wrist, fingertips, or spine.
Differences between men and women
Sex differences play a role in which joints are affected:
- In men, about 85% of gout flare-ups affect joints in the lower extremities. About 50% of first-time gout attacks involve a big toe joint.
- In women, a gout attack is most likely to occur in a knee. In addition, women may be more likely to get gout in the upper extremities.
While women are less likely to get gout, they are more likely to have multiple joints affected by gout.