Gout in the Shoulder: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Jun 01, 2024 | 2 min read

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Gout in the shoulder occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate in the shoulder joint, causing severe pain, redness, and swelling. Proper diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing this less common form of gout.

Can you get gout in your shoulder?

A gout is a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. This buildup leads to inflammation and intense pain. Gout commonly affects the big toe, but it can also target other joints in the body.

According to the National Kidney Foundation data, gout affects 3.9% of US adults. While gout most often affects the lower extremities, it can indeed affect the shoulder. Gout in the shoulder is less common, but it is possible. Uric acid crystals can accumulate in any joint, leading to painful symptoms.

Shoulder gout as well as one on the hand is less common compared to gout in the feet, ankles, and knees. However, it should not be ruled out if shoulder pain is severe and persistent. Proper diagnosis is important to manage the condition effectively.

What does gout in the shoulder feel like?

Gout in the shoulder typically causes sharp, intense pain. The pain can be sudden and severe, making it difficult to move the shoulder. It may feel like a stabbing or burning sensation.

Shoulder gout pain is often more severe than other types of joint pain. Unlike general arthritis, which causes a dull, aching pain, gout pain is usually sharp and intense. The affected area may also feel warm and tender to the touch.

The pain from gout in the shoulder can range from moderate to excruciating. It may come on suddenly, often at night. The shoulder might also be red and swollen. The severity of pain can vary, but it is typically quite intense.

What causes gout in the shoulder?

Gout in the shoulder is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the blood, leading to the formation of uric acid crystals in the shoulder joint.

These crystals accumulate due to:

  • High levels of uric acid: This can result from consuming foods high in purines, such as red meat, shellfish, and sugary drinks.
  • Genetic factors: A family history of gout can increase the risk of developing the condition.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions like obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease can elevate uric acid levels.
  • Medications: Certain medications can raise uric acid levels, contributing to gout development.

This buildup leads to inflammation, intense pain, and other gout symptoms in the shoulder.

Symptoms of gout in the shoulder

  • Severe pain, redness, and swelling in the shoulder joint. The affected area may feel warm to the touch.
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion in your shoulder. Visible lumps, known as tophi, under the skin near the joint.

Gout symptoms in the shoulder are typically more intense than those of other joint issues. The sudden onset of sharp, severe pain differentiates gout from conditions like tendinitis or general arthritis, which usually cause a more gradual and dull ache.

How to relieve gout pain in the shoulder?

To relieve gout pain in the shoulder, consider the following methods:

  • Rest and avoid using the affected arm.
  • Apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and numb the pain.
  • Keep the shoulder elevated to minimize swelling.

For long-term relief:

  • Make dietary changes to lower uric acid levels. Avoid foods high in purines, such as red meat and shellfish.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to help manage gout symptoms.

If gout pain in the shoulder persists, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend effective treatments. Physical therapy and specific exercises might also help improve shoulder mobility and reduce pain.

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