How does a doctor diagnose gout?

If you have sudden or severe pain in a joint, you should talk to your primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP may send you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in gout and other kinds of arthritis.

Healthcare providers consider several things when confirming gout:

  • Symptoms: The provider will ask you to describe your symptoms, how often they happen and how long they last.
  • Physical examination: Your provider will examine the affected joint(s) to look for swelling, redness and warmth.
  • Blood work: A test can measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
  • Imaging tests: You may have pictures taken of the affected joint(s) with X-rays, an ultrasound or MRI.
  • Aspiration: The provider may use a needle to pull fluid from the joint. Using a microscope, a team member can look for uric acid crystals (confirming gout) or a different problem (such as bacteria with infection or other type of crystal).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/15/2020.


  • American College of Rheumatology. Gout. Accessed 11/17/2020.
  • Arthritis Foundation. Gout. Accessed 11/17/2020.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gout. Accessed 11/17/2020.
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Gout. Accessed 11/17/2020.

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