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Gout is caused by a build up of sodium urate crystals in and around joints due to an increased uric acid level in the blood.
The condition can cause a number of symptoms but the most common are inflammation and pain caused by the crystals irritating the soft lining of the joint called the synovium.
However, pain and inflammation in the joints can be caused by many conditions and gout is only one of 200 forms of arthritis.
Therefore, a patient may be referred for a number of tests before other conditions can be ruled out and gout can be diagnosed.
The most reliable way to confirm a diagnosis of gout is to check for the presence of crystals in the joints. However, this often cannot be carried out at a GP practice and a diagnosis is instead based on a range of tests, medical history and patient symptoms.
An outline of how gout is diagnosed is given below: