What Is Gouty Arthritis?

People get confused between gouty arthritis and gout.

What is the difference? Are they the same?

The short answer is – gouty arthritis is just another way of saying gout.

It is interesting to look a bit deeper. Why, when the two terms mean the same, do I use different terms at different times?

Gout is clearly the most common term, but the correct medical term is gouty arthritis.

I use the term gout mostly, and in my experience, most doctors do the same. It is shorter, more common, and most people recognize it as a medical condition that involves painful joints.

However, some people believe it is a dietary disorder, so it is good to use the term gouty arthritis in that context to emphasize that it is an arthritic condition that is mainly due to genetics. Diet can play a part, but much more common non-genetic factors are side effects of diuretic blood pressure medicines and other medicines and conditions. I cover this in much more detail in the Gout Symptoms Section.

Even using the term gouty arthritis does not tell the full story. Yes, gout does affect the joints, causing painful swelling, and so it is a form of arthritis. It is often grouped with pseudogout, and other crystal based diseases, and referred to as a form of crystal arthritis. Inflamed joints are usually the first sign of gout, but gout can also affect other parts of the body. Before I discuss that, I should remind you that gout in the joints causes more problems than immediate pain and swelling. The pain comes from your immune system reacting to uric acid crystals. This is similar to the pain you experience with flu and other invasions. Unlike flu, your body cannot kill the inanimate uric acid crystal, so it covers it in a protein coating. These deposits will eat into cartilage, tendons and bone causing damage to the joint. This creates another form of arthritis – osteoarthritis – which is another term for painful swelling from permanent joint damage.

As I mentioned, gout is not restricted to joints. The uric acid deposits that damage joints can buildup anywhere in the body. They are often experienced in cooler parts of the body such as ear lobes and fingers. These deposits are called tophi (a single lump is a tophus). The condition is referred to as tophaceous gout. Lumps are seldom painful, unless they restrict movement, or burst through the skin. You can learn more about this aspect of gouty arthritis by searching for tophi in the search box near the top of the page.

This article answers the question: what is gouty arthritis?, asked recently in the gout forum.

I have started a discussion to find a clearer definition of gouty arthritis and answer to the question, What Is Gout? I want this to avoid medical jargon if possible, and focus on what gout really means to gout sufferers. Please read that article, then follow the link to add your opinion, or ask questions.

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