Physiotherapy for Knee Pain Articles
Gout Knee Pain: Proven Strategies for Relief

Gout Knee Pain: Proven Strategies for Relief

Gout, a common form of inflammatory arthritis, typically occurs in the joint of the big toe but can also affect the knee, which tends to only affect one joint at a time. During gout flare-ups, gout in the knee can cause knee pain that can be sudden, severe, and limiting, with symptoms such as swelling, skin colour changes, warmth, tenderness, and flaking skin.

In this article, we will discuss gout knee pain, its symptoms, and other possible causes to help you better understand your knee pain and seek appropriate medical advice.

What is Gout?

Uric acid is a natural byproduct of the body's metabolic processes, and it is produced through the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are found in the body's cells and in various foods. However, when the level of uric acid becomes too high, it can lead to gout.

When the body produces too much uric acid or if the kidneys excrete too little of it, urate crystals can form. Excess uric acid can lead to the formation of needle-like crystals in the joints and surrounding tissues, triggering inflammation and intense pain.

Symptoms of Gout

Gout typically presents as sudden and severe joint pain, often affecting the joint of the big toe. However, gout can also manifest in other joints, such as the knees, causing intense pain, swelling, and redness.

The accumulation of urate crystals in the joints and soft tissues triggers an immune response, resulting in the characteristic symptoms of gout, including swelling, tenderness, and redness in the affected area.

How Do People Develop Gout?

There are several risk factors that can predispose a person to developing gout. These include:

Diet: Certain dietary patterns, such as a high intake of processed and red meats and low consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, have been associated with an increased risk of gout.

Genetics: Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to gout, making them more susceptible to developing the condition.

Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to the development of gout as it increases the production of uric acid and impairs its elimination.

Medical Conditions: Other medical conditions can predispose someone to develop gout through various mechanisms, often involving disruptions in the body's ability to regulate uric acid levels. For example, impaired kidney function can lead to decreased excretion of uric acid, resulting in its accumulation and an increased risk of gout. Also associated with the increased risk of the development of gout are hypertension, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Is It Gout Knee Pain Or Something Else?

While gout is a common cause of knee pain, it's crucial to consider other possible causes before jumping to conclusions. Here are some alternative conditions that may cause knee pain:

Pseudogout (Calcium Pyrophosphate Arthritis)

Pseudogout is a condition that mimics gout but is caused by the deposition of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in the joints. The symptoms are similar to those of gout, including sudden and severe knee pain, swelling, and redness. However, the crystals involved are different, and the treatment approach may vary.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in the joints, including the knees. It typically affects both sides of the body and can cause morning stiffness, joint deformity, and fatigue. Unlike gout, which is caused by uric acid crystals, rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by the immune system attacking the joints.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects individuals with psoriasis, a skin condition characterised by red, scaly patches. It can cause inflammation in the joints, including the knees, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Psoriatic arthritis can also affect other areas of the body, such as the fingers, toes, and spine.

Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that commonly affects the knees. It occurs when the protective cartilage in the joints wears down over time, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. Unlike gout, which is characterised by sudden attacks, osteoarthritis pain tends to be more chronic and worsens with activity. According to Singapore General Hospital, knee osteoarthritis afflicts over 10% of the adult population in Singapore, with a substantial increase seen in the 40 to 60 age bracket.

Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis occurs when a joint becomes infected, usually by bacteria. It can cause severe knee pain, swelling, redness, and difficulty moving the joint. Prompt treatment is essential to prevent further complications, such as joint damage.


Cellulitis is a skin infection that can spread to the knee joint, causing pain, redness, and swelling. It typically occurs when bacteria enter through a cut or wound on the skin. Cellulitis requires immediate medical attention to prevent the infection from spreading further.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a common overuse injury characterized by inflammation and irritation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fascia that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. ITBS often presents as pain on the outside of the knee or hip, particularly during activities such as running or cycling, and can result from repetitive friction of the iliotibial band against the femur.

Previous Knee Injury

If you have previously injured your knee, the pain you're experiencing may be due to residual damage or the development of post-traumatic arthritis. Injuries such as ligament tears, meniscus tears, or fractures can lead to chronic knee pain.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you're experiencing knee pain, especially if it's severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it's crucial to seek medical advice. Your doctor will be able to conduct a thorough evaluation, perform diagnostic tests if necessary, and provide an accurate diagnosis. Remember, early detection and treatment can help prevent further complications and improve your overall prognosis.

Diagnosing Gout Knee Pain

To diagnose gout knee pain, your doctor may perform the following:

Medical History: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any recent changes in your lifestyle or diet.

Physical Examination: Your doctor will examine your knee, checking for signs of inflammation, swelling, and tenderness.

Blood Test: A blood test can measure the levels of uric acid in your blood and help confirm a gout diagnosis. However, it's important to note that high uric acid levels do not necessarily mean you have gout, as other conditions can also cause elevated levels.

Joint Fluid Analysis: Your doctor may recommend a joint fluid analysis, where a sample of fluid is extracted from the affected joint and examined under a microscope. This can help determine if uric acid crystals are present.

Ways to Treat Gout Knee Pain

If you are diagnosed with gout knee pain, several treatment options are available to manage your gout symptoms and prevent future attacks.

Make Necessary Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Implementing dietary and lifestyle changes can help individuals with gout-related knee pain to potentially reduce the frequency and severity of gout attacks and contribute to better management of knee pain associated with gout.

For example, avoiding or reducing the consumption of high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, shellfish, and certain types of beans can help lower uric acid levels, potentially reducing the frequency and severity of gout attacks affecting the knee.

Similarly, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through regular physical activity and a balanced diet can help reduce the risk of gout attacks. Excess weight can contribute to elevated uric acid levels, which may exacerbate knee pain from gout.

Take Appropriate Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine, and glucocorticoids can help relieve pain and inflammation during gout attacks. Uric acid-lowering medications, such as allopurinol or febuxostat, may be prescribed to prevent future attacks by reducing uric acid production or increasing its elimination.

Can Physiotherapy Help With Your Knee Pain?

Physiotherapy for knee pain can play a vital role in managing knee pain, regardless of its cause. It can help individuals regain functional ability and return to their normal activities by addressing underlying strength and mobility deficits.

For example, physiotherapists from Phoenix Rehab can design specific exercise programs to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, improving its stability and reducing pain. They can also employ manual therapy techniques like joint mobilisation and soft tissue mobilisation, which can also help alleviate pain and improve knee function.

Final Words

If you are experiencing knee pain, it's essential to determine whether a gout attack or another underlying condition causes it. By understanding the symptoms, possible causes, and available treatment options, you can work with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive management plan.

Remember, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help alleviate your knee pain and improve your overall quality of life. Don't hesitate to seek medical advice and take proactive steps towards a pain-free future.

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