GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis -- a red, tender, hot, and swollen joint. The joint at the base of the big toe is affected in about half of cases. It may also result in tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy. The cause is a combination of diet and genetic factors. It occurs more commonly in those who eat a lot of meat, drink a lot of beer, or are overweight. The underlying mechanism involves elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. At high levels, the uric acid crystallizes and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons and surrounding tissues, as shown here.
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