Can You Get Gout in Your Hands?

Medically reviewed by Stella Bard, MD

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that results from excess uric acid in the body. Gout typically affects the big toe but can also develop in other joints—including the hands and fingers.

This article discusses gout in the hands, including symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.

<p>Chalffy / Getty Images</p>

Chalffy / Getty Images

Symptoms of Gout in the Hands

Gout symptoms come and go. When you experience symptoms, it's known as a "gout attack," "flare-up," or "flare." Gout flares can last for days or weeks.

Gout in the hands can cause sudden, severe pain. Other symptoms can include:

  • Decreased range of motion

  • Redness

  • Swelling in finger joints

  • Warm or hot skin around the affected joint

Over time, gout can cause bumps called "tophi" to develop on the finger joints. Tophi are a collection of uric acid crystals that accumulate underneath the skin.

What Causes Gout in the Hands?

Gout occurs from high levels of uric acid in the body. The first gout attack typically affects the big toe. However, the hands are a common site for subsequent flare-ups.

Many factors contribute to the development of gout, including diet, genetics, and other health conditions.


Uric acid is naturally present in the body, but it is also a byproduct of the breakdown of purines—a substance found in certain foods and beverages.

Examples include:

  • Organ meats

  • Canned fish (e.g., anchovies and sardines)

  • Shellfish (e.g., mussels, scallops)

  • Other fish (e.g., trout, tuna)

  • Alcoholic beverages (e.g., beer and liquor)

  • Foods containing high-fructose corn syrup


Genetics can influence whether or not you will have high levels of uric acid in the body. However, not all people with high uric acid levels will develop gout.

Hand Injuries

Hand injuries do not directly cause gout, but some report that injuries have led to gout flare-ups. Gout can also lead to permanent joint damage and affect other hand structures, including the tendons that move your fingers.

Other Medical Conditions

Gout commonly occurs alongside other medical conditions, including the following:

Certain medications can contribute to higher levels of uric acid, such as:

  • Diuretics (water pills)

  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)

  • Drugs to lower blood pressure

  • Sandimmune (cyclosporine), a medication commonly taken after organ transplant surgery

Other Risk Factors

While they aren't a direct cause of gout in the hand, there are additional risk factors that can contribute to the development of gout, such as:

  • Family history of gout

  • Increasing age

  • Menopause

  • Prior hand injury

Other Possible Reasons for Pain in the Hands

Symptoms of gout in the hands can be similar to other conditions, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An autoimmune condition that mistakenly causes the body to attack its joints. RA typically affects joints on both sides of the body simultaneously. Gout usually affects one joint at a time.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA): This condition occurs when cartilage (padding) between bones in the finger and hand joints breaks down. OA often affects one joint at a time and has a gradual onset of symptoms. Gout symptoms come on suddenly and severely.

  • Cellulitis: This bacterial infection can cause finger joints to be inflamed or red. However, unlike gout, it is not usually painful to the touch.

  • Pseudogout: Pseudogout symptoms are similar to gout, but this condition is caused by a buildup of calcium pyrophosphate crystals rather than uric acid.

  • Psoriatic arthritis: In addition to joint pain, this type of arthritis causes skin lesions, which are not present with gout.

How Gout in the Hands Is Diagnosed

Diagnosing gout in the hands begins with a review of your symptoms and a physical examination by a healthcare professional.

Gout in the hands is not as common as gout in other joints, such as the feet. Additional tests are usually required to help confirm the diagnosis, such as:

Treatment and Home Remedies for Gout in the Hands

Treatment for a gout flare-up in the hands includes a combination of medications and home remedies. These can include the following:

  • Ice: Apply cold to the affected hand joint for 20 minutes at a time, several times daily, during a flare-up.

  • Rest: Avoid activities that increase hand pain during a gout flare-up. Wearing a splint can help reduce the movement of painful joints during daily tasks. Consult a healthcare provider, such as a certified hand therapist, for specific splint recommendations.

  • Elevate: Prop your arm up above the level of your heart when lying down to help reduce swelling.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as Aleve (naproxen) and Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen), can help reduce inflammation and symptoms of gout.

  • Prescription medications: If over-the-counter medications aren't effective, you may need prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications—such as Indocin (indomethacin), Colcrys (colchicine), or corticosteroids.

Medications that treat high levels of urate in the body are also prescribed, such as:

  • Uricosuric agents, which aid the kidneys in flushing urate out of the body

  • Xanthine oxidase inhibitors, which reduce urate production

  • Uricase, which breaks urate down to make it easier for the body to flush it out

Alternative Treatments for Gout

Many people turn to alternative gout treatments, but more research is needed to confirm their validity.

Examples include:

How to Manage Pain From Gout in Your Hands

While you can't prevent gout flares from occurring, there are things you can do to help decrease some of your risk factors, such as:

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates.

  • Decrease your fat intake.

  • Drink unsweetened beverages.

  • Eat low-fat dairy products instead of meat or seafood as your primary source of protein.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Stay hydrated to help flush uric acid out of the body.

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

If the gout in your hands is not improving with medications and home remedies, contact a healthcare provider. They may adjust the dosage of your current medicines or recommend different medications to try.

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience a fever during a gout flare. This can be a sign of infection.


Gout is a condition caused by high uric acid levels in the body. While it most commonly affects the big toe, this condition can also affect joints in the hands or fingers.

Gout flares are primarily treated with medications, but lifestyle changes—such as avoiding foods high in purines and maintaining a healthy weight—can help reduce the frequency of these flare-ups.

Home remedies, such as ice, elevation, and rest, can help reduce hand pain during a gout flare-up. To help reduce the risk of flares-ups, take your medications as directed by a healthcare provider.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.