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Gout may be the cause of nighttime joint pain

Gout May Be the Cause of Nighttime Joint Pain

September 13, 2018

If you’ve ever awakened in the middle of the night with joint pain so intense that just the sheet touching your skin is almost unbearable, an inflammatory arthritic condition known as gout may be the culprit.

“The most common sign of gout is a nighttime attack of sharp pain in the small joint at the base of the big toe,” says Kirkwood Johnston, MD, a board-certified physician specializing in Rheumatology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Dr. Johnston says that other joints, including ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows, may also be affected.

“Gout attacks may last for a few days or many weeks, and then go away without another acute occurrence for months or years,” he explains. “They’re triggered by an excessive build-up of uric acid, a waste product formed by the body’s natural processes, which has hardened into crystals and deposited in joints.”

Men, particularly those between 40 and 50, seem more susceptible to gout than women. Treatment usually includes medications to lower uric acid levels, combined with counseling patients to make lifestyle adjustments that help prevent future episodes. Left untreated, gout can become a chronic joint disease, occasionally leading to painful kidney stones and kidney failure.

“Fortunately, once diagnosed, knowledgeable treatment can usually manage the condition. And since early detection is important to successful treatment, I suggest you see a rheumatologist without delay,” concludes Dr. Johnston.

Headshot of Kirkwood Johnston, MD

About the Author

Dr. Kirkwood Johnston is a rheumatology specialist. He sees patients at Kelsey-Seybold's Clear Lake Clinic, Downtown at the Shops Clinic, Main Campus, and Pearland Clinic. "I believe that teaching and explaining often complicated diseases and treatments helps my patients and I work together more effectively to improve outcomes."

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