What health complications can be caused by gout?

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Gout is a form of arthritis that can be painful and difficult to manage. It’s caused by a build-up of uric acid, which then crystallizes, causing pain and swelling around the joints. Many people know that gout is uncomfortable, but what they don’t often realize is just how serious some of the associated health complications can be. 

Understanding these potential side effects can help you make more informed decisions if you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with this common type of arthritis. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different kinds of health complications related to gout and their impact on overall well-being.

Joint damage and bone erosions

Uric acid is usually passed through the body naturally, but in gout sufferers, these uric crystals remain in the joints. Unsurprisingly, this then causes swelling, which over time can lead to joint damage, as well as regular pain. In some severe cases, those with joint damage from gout will need surgery.

Additionally, these crystals can actually wear away at the joints and cause erosion, which then stops the joint from working properly. Whilst the body can function with some erosion, it may be necessary to have surgery. Erosion is more common in people who have suffered from gout for a long period of time, are older, or have tophi.


When these crystals build up in the body, they form small visible lumps, called tophi. These are most commonly found on:

  • Ears
  • Elbows
  • Fingers
  • Forearms
  • Heels
  • Knees
  • Toes

Tophi can become inflamed and produce discharge, so it’s important to check them regularly. If you have any concerns, then you should consult your doctor. 

Kidney stones

Getting kidney stones is not a problem unique to gout sufferers, but the crystallization that occurs in this condition can make them more likely to develop. Kidney stones are lumps of material that have collected inside the kidney, and they make it painful to pass urine and make you feel you need to go to the bathroom more often. They can pass naturally over time, but in some cases where the stone is too big, it will need to be removed with surgery. 

Mental health concerns

Having gout can make life feel difficult – not only does it cause pain, but it might make it harder to keep up with friends and family, which can lead to feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. It can also be mentally demanding to keep up with diet and exercise regimes over a long period of time. 

Research suggests that practices such as mindfulness can help with gout symptoms, since being under stress can trigger a gout attack, as well as other conditions like high blood pressure. Relatives and friends of those with gout should also make sure to keep in contact and support their loved one. Even if the person with gout isn’t feeling up to a day out with you, they will appreciate a phone call, visit or even a gentle walk. 

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