Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, gout is a well-understood and highly treatable disease. Medications are available to stabilize uric acid levels and relieve acute pain and inflammation. With appropriate treatment gout can be controlled and future attacks prevented. The biggest obstacles in controlling gout are improper diagnosis and noncompliance. If a doctor doesn't diagnose it properly, he cannot treat it properly. 

Like some other forms of arthritis, gout requires a medical regimen all its own. Taking the proper medications and taking them faithfully – even during periods when you feel absolutely fine – is essential to controlling gout. Maintaining a reasonable weight and limiting alcohol consumption can help control gout as well.

If you haven't already had a joint fluid sample examined for urate crystals, I would recommend you speak to your doctor about having one at your next visit. Or if the medication he has prescribed for your RA (and I assume he has prescribed one or more) doesn't seem to be helping, schedule a visit sooner. It is important to determine whether you have arthritis or gout – the sooner you know and begin proper treatment, the sooner you will experience relief.

Doyt Conn, MD, Rheumatologist