It May Not Be GoutGout is sometimes misdiagnosed because it can resemble other types of arthritis, such as pseudogout. While joint symptoms are similar, pseudogout is caused by calcium phosphate crystals, not uric acid. Gout also can be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis. It's important to see your doctor, who may refer you to an arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist.
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To diagnose gout and rule out other types of arthritis, a doctor will conduct a joint examination and consider a patient's medical history, including past signs and symptoms and current medications. Blood tests to measure uric acid levels and other factors are routine, as well. Although uric acid levels are elevated in patients with gout, they can seem normal or even low during an attack.
A definitive gout diagnosis can be made after looking through a microscope at synovial fluid that has been extracted from the affected joint and identifying the presence of uric acid crystals. Experienced physicians sometimes diagnose gout based on signs and symptoms, without taking a joint fluid sample.
After a gout diagnosis, the next step is to talk with your doctor about a management plan. A successful plan will include advice for dealing with potential future attacks, plus lifestyle changes and medications that may help reduce the risk of gout attacks and joint destruction.
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