Following a question from a visitor, I have written my explanation of “What Is Gouty Arthritis?

I believe this is a reasonable explanation in the context of the question. However, if it only leads to the question “What is gout?” then I am not convinced that my response gives a good enough answer.

My biggest problem is one of context.

If I know why someone is asking a question, and have an idea about their subject knowledge, I can give a pretty good response. That is why I like questions that include a little background information.

Faced with the question “what is gout?” I have a dilemma. There is no simple answer without knowing a little more. A scientific or medical explanation can easily mean absolutely nothing without pages of explanation about the properties and characteristics of uric acid, the physiology of the immune system, and the psychology of pain.

A simple definition is: “Painful inflammation of joints caused by an immune system response to uric acid crystals.” However, that fails to cover tophaceous gout.

I could add: “Uric acid crystals form in joints and other tissues when there is excess uric acid in the blood. The deposits cause permanent damage to cartilage, ligaments and bones in joints. Outside the joints they cause lumps, known as tophi (the plural of tophus) which are usually painless and harmless unless they restrict movement or grow through the skin.”

If those four sentences form the definition of gout and of gouty arthritis, is anything missing? Can you do better?

This debate is superseded by What Is Gout To You? Please add your comments and questions about how you define gout in that discussion.

1 Comment

  • I have had a quick look at which terms seem most confusing. The common ones are:
    What is gout?
    What is gouty arthritis?
    What is uric acid?
    What is hyperuricemia?

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