Often, the diagnosis of gout is obvious, especially if a person has had gout before. A red, hot, painful swollen big toe in a man over 40 is usually gout.
However it could also be an infection in the joint or bone, or an unusual condition known as pseudo-gout. So if you have not had gout before or you are not sure what is causing the symptoms, see your doctor.
The doctor may confirm the diagnosis by taking a sample of fluid from the joint with a thin needle and sending it to a laboratory, where urate crystals can be seen in the fluid through a microscope. A blood test may also show elevated levels of uric acid in the blood (although it is possible to have high uric acid blood levels and not have gout). In people with recurrent gout, X-rays may show damage to the affected joint.
Last reviewed: August 2015