What Does Gout Pain Feel Like?

Gout is a type of arthritis that is most often in one area or joint and involves swelling and pain. The big toe, other toes, fingers, ankles, and knees are the most common places to experience gout.

This condition happens when a natural waste product in the body called uric acid, or urate, builds up either because too much is produced or more commonly, not enough is broken down and passed out of the body. This leads to crystals that can cause arthritis attacks and, later on, kidney stones or bumps under skin.

Learn about gout, its symptoms, what it feels like, and more.

Gout pain in the foot.

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Gout Symptoms in the Foot

Symptoms of gout are similar to other types of arthritis, such as swollen, painful joints. There are also some differences. For example, gout is more likely to affect the big toe and appear suddenly and with intense pain. Additionally, people with gout may experience tophi, which is when crystals or stones formed by uric acid collect under the skin.

Symptoms of Gout

  • Inflamed or swollen or painful joint or joints, most often in the big toe, foot, ankle, or knees
  • Stiffness in the area affected
  • Difficulty walking or moving due to foot pain, swelling, or stiffness
  • Bumps under the skin near the affected joint

What Does Gout Feel Like?

Gout feels different for everyone and may depend on the specific joint or area affected. The area may be stiff and extremely painful, even painful enough that having anything touching the area is unbearable. The pain can be on the joint only or in the area around the joint as well.

Tophi are bumps that can appear on the skin with gout. They are usually not painful. However, they can swell and become painful.

What Conditions Is Gout Commonly Mistaken For?

Gout is most commonly mistaken for a similar condition called pseudogout. They are often confused because they both include symptoms such as joint pain and swelling along with a buildup of crystals under the skin. However, the crystals present in pseudogout are caused by calcium pyrophosphate instead of tjhe sodium urate that causes gout.

Gout may also be mistaken for other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, especially in people who do not experience tophi or noticeable bumps of crystal build-up.

How Is Gout Diagnosed?

Gout can be diagnosed by a medical specialist called a rheumatologist. One test used to diagnose the condition involves removing fluid from the joint using a needle. The fluid is then examined under a microscope to identify urate crystals that cause gout. This test may be used along with other tests and assessing symptoms as part of an office visit.

Diagnosing gout may include:

  • Considering symptoms and medical history
  • Looking for urate crystals in fluid taken from affected joints
  • Uric acid blood test
  • Imaging such as ultrasound or X-ray

Gout Treatment

Treatments for gout include medications and lifestyle changes such as stress management, nutrition, physical activity, and weight loss.

Medications for Gout

  • Corticosteroids: Help to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Medications that reduce uric acid: Can work by decreasing uric acid production or by helping the body get rid of uric acid
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Help to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling

People with gout can benefit from switching to a low-purine diet. This involves limiting or eliminating alcohol, meats, and other foods high in purines while eating plenty of foods that are low in purines, such as fruits and certain vegetables.


Gout is a type of arthritis. It generally affects only one joint at a time, usually the big toe joint or another joint in the foot, ankle, or knee. This condition can appear suddenly with intense pain and there may also be swelling and lumps of crystals under the skin called tophi. People with gout may also have trouble walking due to the pain.

Gout symptoms are similar to other types of arthritis and can sometimes be mistaken for other types, including rheumatoid arthritis. It also is often confused with pseudogout, which involves a buildup of calcium deposits under the skin. Gout can go away on its own, and treatment options are available.

A Word From Verywell

Suspecting, being diagnosed with, and living with gout can be uncomfortable and challenging, especially when pain, swelling, or other symptoms interfere with mobility and daily life. If you or someone you know is experiencing gout symptoms, reach out to a healthcare professional such as a primary care provider or a rheumatologist for support. Gout can be treated when symptoms are severe or last longer than a few days or a couple of weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What part of your foot hurts with gout?

    The part of the foot or body that hurts with gout depends on the area affected. It is most common in the joint of the big toe, but can also affect other toes, other parts of the foot, ankle, or knee. Some people may also experience pain in other areas, such as the back.

  • Will gout go away on its own?

    There is no cure for gout, but symptoms of a gout attack, or flare, usually go away on their own after a week or two. However, the damage to the joint from a gout attack may last, and gout can resurface. Treatment to resolve symptoms is available.

  • Does walking with gout make it worse?

    It can be painful to walk with gout. However, walking and other low-impact activities can help to heal gout and improve the symptoms. It may be more comfortable to walk with a cane or in water so there is less weight on the joint.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gout.

  2. University of Rochester Medical Center. Uric acid.

  3. National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Gout.

  4. Salama A, Alweis R. Images in clinical medicine: TophiJ Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2017;7(2):136-137. doi:10.1080/20009666.2017.1328967

  5. National Health Service. Gout.

  6. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. What is the difference between gout and pseudogout?

  7. Arthritis Foundation. Is it rheumatoid arthritis or gout?

  8. American College of Rheumatology. Gout.

  9. Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Treatment of gout.

  10. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Gout.

  11. Zhang Y, Chen C, Choi H, et al. Purine-rich foods intake and recurrent gout attacksAnn Rheum Dis. 2012;71(9):1448-1453. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-201215

By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ashley Olivine is a health psychologist and public health professional with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice. She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development.