The pain was always very sudden

Photo of a woman gardening

Mary, 64 years old

"Sometimes I picked up a plate and everything was normal, then suddenly I was in real pain and had to let go of it."

My gout came on very gradually. It was in my right hand. My middle finger started to change and the nail became wavy. It hurt, but I didn't really think about it at first. Even my colleagues asked me whether my symptoms might have something to do with gout. But I dismissed that idea and said that I didn't have anything like that.

My knuckle started to swell

But my knuckle became increasingly swollen and I could hardly grip anything anymore. I kept getting these shooting pains that seemed to go right through my body. It was very, very painful, and always very sudden too. Like sometimes I picked up a plate and everything was normal, then suddenly I was in real pain and had to let go of it.

Other patients tend to have problems in their toes or other joints, but it was my finger that was affected. Lots of people have the pain at night, but I usually had it during the day. I was able to sleep fine at night and it didn't bother me at all. I also can't say that the pain started straight after eating certain types of food. It just came out of the blue.

The pain became unbearable

I started to consciously avoid using my right hand and used my left hand instead. But the first time that I dropped a plate because I had to let go, I decided to get some medical advice.

So I went to see my regular doctor. She took a blood sample and found that I had abnormally high uric acid levels, and gout.

Just that one finger was affected – no other joints. My doctor gave me a list of what foods to eat and what to avoid, and which foods I can combine. After that I completely stopped eating pork. I followed that diet very carefully for about 3 months.

The symptoms began to fade

I stuck to my new diet habits for half a year. But it wasn't easy to give up some things because I used to love eating meat. I also used to like eating offal and asparagus, but they were both off limits as well. That wasn't easy, but the pain was so bad. Over time I could feel that my finger was returning to normal. I haven't had any gout attacks since then. The bouts of pain haven’t come back. I can now grip things properly again. I have started to eat meat again from time to time, but everything in moderation.

Because I went to the doctor at such an early stage, I didn't have to take any medication. The last time I went in for a check-up my uric acid levels were a bit too high again, but not so high that I needed medication.

My finger looks normal again now. It doesn't hurt anymore and I have full range of movement.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on March 28, 2022

Next planned update: 2025


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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