What causes a gout attack in the big toe?

Gout occurs when uric acid levels are higher than the limit value of 6 mg/dl, causing uric acid crystals to be formed. These crystals can build up in tissues, joints, cartilage, bones or the kidneys and other places in the body and can lead to inflammation.

The first gout attack usually occurs at night, triggered for example by a purine-rich meal (like meat or seafood), heavy drinking (beer and spirits), unaccustomed exertion or an infectious disease. The patient wakes up with very severe pain in a single joint, usually the big toe joint.

Signs of a gout attack in the big toe joint are:

  • The big toe joint is very painful;
  • The big toe joint might be red, swollen and hot to touch;
  • The big toe joint might be extremely sensitive to the touch;
  • Other symptoms such as fever, headache may occur.

How long can a gout attack last?

If left untreated, a gout attack can last from seven to 14 days until the inflammation reduces and the pain passes. The skin over the affected joint is usually itchy and peels off.

If you suspect you have gout or have had a gout attack, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis and treatment of gout make a difference in the course of the disease.

You may also be interested in the following content

What is gout?

About gout

When uric acid levels in the blood rise above 6 mg/dl, or 360 μmol/l, this can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals...

Learn more
Gout attack

Gout attack

The first gout attack usually occurs at night, triggered by a sudden increase in the uric acid level, for example from eating a great deal of meat or drinking a lot of beer…

Learn more