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How is gout different from other forms of arthritis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Gout is different from other forms of arthritis because it is caused by uric acid crystals. The crystals build up and collect in and around the joints. Although gout is progressive like other forms of arthritis, it does not normally attack the bones or other organs, which occurs with rheumatoid arthritis.

Gout is a type of joint inflammation, or arthritis, that develops when uric acid crystals build up in the joint. Gout typically only affects one joint at a time, is very painful, causes a lot of joint inflammation and swelling and may resolve completely in a few days. It is most common for gout to affect the toe joint, but it may affect other joints as well. Other forms of arthritis that are common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Neither of these types of arthritis have anything to do with crystals in the joints. Osteoarthritis develops from degeneration, or aging of the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis develops when the immune system is attacking the joints.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Osteoarthritis and gout can be mistaken for each other because both are characterized by swelling and inflammation. However, gout is different because too much uric acid in the bloodstream causes crystals to build up and damage joints. This does not occur in typical osteoarthritis. While some treatments for both gout and osteoarthritis are similar, gout requires special medications to decrease uric acid in the body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.