Gout Pain: It Really Does Hurt

Gout has been described as “unbearable,” “the most painful thing that has ever happened to me,” and as being worse than broken bones. The words “excruciating,” “burning” and “boiling” are often used by people trying to communicate how much it hurts.

If you have gout, you have plenty of company. Approximately 8 million Americans have gout, and an estimated 3 million of them have experienced an attack in the last year. That’s a lot of people in a lot of pain.

How Bad Was Your Last Attack?

Slide to your “pain level” during your last attack

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“I’m fine. Score a tackle gout touchdown!” “No biggie. Feels like an annoying twinge.” “It’s bothering me a bit.” “Something is simmering in my joints.” “It’s like a stubbed toe.” “It’s a slow burn.” “Like my joint is cooking on a barbecue.” “Like shattered glass piercing my skin.” “Burning and stabbing to the bone.” “Excruciating—worse than a broken bone.” “Horror movie nightmare.”

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Why Does It Hurt So Much?

Gout hurts because it involves intense inflammation, which is caused by the interaction of the needle-shaped crystals in the joint with other cells in the body. You might see redness and swelling on the outside of the painful joint, but it’s what is happening on the inside – the surge of inflammatory chemicals – that is the culprit.