To diagnose gout, your doctor will ask about your medical history, examine your joint and do a blood test.

He will also ask about:

  • Your symptoms
  • What medications you’re taking
  • Your diet
  • How quickly and intensely the gout attack came on
  • Details of the attack: severity of pain, length, joints affected

Your doctor will need to rule out other potential causes of joint pain and inflammation such as infection, injury or another type of arthritis. He will take a blood test to measure the level of uric acid in your blood. A high level of uric acid in your blood doesn’t necessarily mean you have gout, just as a normal level doesn’t mean you don’t have it. He may take an X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI to examine soft tissue and bone.

Your doctor might also remove fluid from the affected joint and examine it under a microscope for uric acid crystals. Finding uric acid crystals in the joint fluid is the surest way to make a gout diagnosis.