Can Gout Affect Your Shoulders?

Can Gout Affect Your Shoulders?

It’s hard to confuse a gout flare-up with other problems. After all, this widespread form of arthritis often causes intense joint pain, swelling, inflammation, and redness that can knock you off your feet. That’s because gout usually affects the big toe. However, it can also cause problems in other parts of the body, including the shoulder.

Thomas F. Saylor, MD, is a gifted orthopaedic surgeon who offers expert diagnostic services and treatment at Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida. If you have shoulder pain, here’s what you need to know about gout.

Gout basics

Arthritis is a leading cause of shoulder pain, but not all types are one and the same. 

We use the general term “arthritis” to describe swelling and tenderness in at least one joint. However, more than 100 different forms of this condition exist, and they each affect the joints in different ways. One unique and complex form is gout.

When you have gout, urate crystals accumulate in a joint, leading to the intense pain and inflammation you experience in a gout attack. These crystals form because of high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. 

Uric acid comes from the purines your body breaks down in your system. Purines occur naturally and also come from certain foods, such as:

Most of the time, the uric acid in your body dissolves and leaves your body in your urine. However, if your body produces too much of this substance or your kidneys excrete too little, uric acid can build up in your system. 

This leads to sharp urate crystals forming in joints or surrounding tissues, causing a gout attack.

Gout and shoulders

Gout attacks often come on suddenly and usually at night. And, as we stated above, they typically affect the big toe. However, while less common, gout can also cause issues in the elbows, wrists and fingers, ankles and knees, and the shoulders.

Signs of gout in the shoulder often include:

Since gout shares many symptoms with other common causes of shoulder pain, understanding your risk of developing this condition can help with reaching a diagnosis.

Recognizing your risk for gout

The recognition of gout dates back to ancient Egypt, almost 5,000 years ago. Today, approximately 4% of Americans live with this condition.

Factors that increase your chances of developing gout include:

Dr. Saylor can sometimes diagnose the presence of gout based on your symptoms and personal risks alone. However, he could also recommend additional diagnostic testing to rule out other conditions.

If you have gout in your shoulder, Dr. Saylor can outline a treatment strategy to reduce the inflammation and pain of your attack. Then, he can provide guidance on how to avoid additional flare-ups in the future.

Do you have shoulder pain? Identifying the cause is the only way to get the most effective relief. To get the help you need, call 561-292-0148 or book an appointment online with Orthopaedic Care Specialists today.

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