How To Distinguish Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Gout?

Arthritis is a term that refers to hundreds of medical conditions affecting the joints. Gout and rheumatoid arthritis are two forms of arthritis. Despite having many similar symptoms, they are dealt with in entirely different ways and hence require different treatment plans.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis(RA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes pain, inflammation, and swelling of the joints in the body.

Being a systemic disease, RA may affect other organs in the body during its progression. The organs that might be affected include the lungs, eye, heart, and skin. When left untreated, RA symptoms become serious and the quality of life of the patients will be in question.

What Is Gout?

Gout is associated with severe pain in the joints, especially that of the toe and the foot. The top of the foot and the ankle as well as other joints in the body may also be affected by gout.

Gout is caused by the deposition of urate crystals in the joints. Eating foods that increase blood uric acid levels can contribute to the risk of gout.

What Are The Differences Between Gout And RA?

If we were to analyze the similarities of gout and RA, we can see that both conditions are associated with redness, swelling, and pain in the joints. Both could become serious when left untreated. The joints affected and the initial symptoms are not the same for the conditions. Some of the characteristic signs of the conditions are explained below.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Any joint could be affected and it is usually symmetrical, which means that pain will be experienced on either side of the body.
  • Joints turn red and swollen and the patients experience severe pain.
  • The small joints of the wrists, feet, and hands are mostly affected.


  • It mostly affects the joints of the foot, especially that of the toe.
  • Symptoms of gout include redness, intense pain, and swelling in the affected joints.

Different Underlying Causes

RA and gout are caused by different factors. RA is an autoimmune condition and to date, the medical community actively engaged in studies on rheumatology does not have knowledge of the exact causes of the condition.

The root cause of gout is purines, chemical compounds found in certain foods. Once it reaches our body, the body converts purines into uric acid and gout occurs when the uric acid level in the blood is too high. Meat, shellfish, fish, and even some vegetables contain purines in high amounts.

RA and gout are treated using different methods and their diagnosis techniques also differ from one another.

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