Gout is a painful condition caused by a high level of uric acid in your blood. The gradual buildup of uric acid can go undetected until the symptoms of gout strike. Gout symptoms can appear and intensify within hours (usually during the night) and can last anywhere up to 5 to 10 days. The sudden appearance of gout symptoms such as crippling pain, tenderness, and swelling in a joint is known as a gout attack. Although the big toe is often vulnerable to gout, other joints like the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, elbows can also be affected.
If you experience a gout attack, the softest of touch to the gouty area, such as from a bed sheet, may cause you unbearable pain. You may also experience a fever, slight chills, and a rapid heartbeat for a couple of days. Some people also report discolored mounds, known as "tophi," beneath the skin covering the joint. Tophi typically form after an average of 12 years of gout attacks. If untreated, the tophi may burst and disperse crystals of uric acid throughout your skin. However, treating your gout can prevent the development of tophi.