Warning issued over condition with 'debilitating pain' as cases rise among young people

A warning has been issued about gout as cases rise among younger people
A warning has been issued about gout as cases rise among younger people -Credit:Getty Images

A warning has been issued over a "Victorian condition" as cases rise in people aged in their 20s and 30s.

Cases of gout in the 20s and 30s age group have jumped by 30%, according to latest figures. The health condition, which can be incredibly painful, is commonly associated with Victorian Britain but still remains fairly common.

Around one in 40 people suffer with gout, making it the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. In more than half of all cases, gout manifests as a severely painful, red and hot joint in the big toe.

It can then spread to the rest of our feet and hands and even become disabling. Health experts are now calling for improved monitoring and faster treatment of the condition, reports BirminghamLive.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), clinical lead at London Medical Laboratory, said: "Unfortunately, gout is a condition that is very much still with us, despite the fact that simple blood tests can help identify people likely to suffer a flare before it ever happens. The charity Arthritis Action says one in 40 Brits now have the condition and it can lead to debilitating pain, even for younger people.

"A study published in the journal BMC Primary Care last November found gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis yet, frequently, it is not managed well enough or taken seriously." He continued: "The last major UK study into the condition was held as long ago as 2012.

"At that time, a report in the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases revealed cases were significantly higher in 2012 than in 1997, the date of the preceding major study, with a 63.9% increase in prevalence and 29.6% increase in incidence over this period. Concerningly, although most gout patients were still 60 or older, the number of patients aged between 20 and 30 had increased by 30%.

"In some ways, there has been little advance since 2012. NHS Digital statistics show that 234,000 people were admitted to hospital with gout in 2021-2022. The 2023 BMC Primary Care report examined 51,784 cases of people with the disease and found 35.9% suffered at least one more flare during the study period. It found cases of gout flares are more likely in people who are male, Black, have a higher BMI, suffer from heart failure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), cardiovascular disease (CVD) or who take diuretics."

According to the NHS: "Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain. Painkillers can help the pain and healthier lifestyle choices can prevent future attacks."

The main symptoms of gout are:

  • sudden severe pain in a joint – usually your big toe, but it can be in other joints in your feet, ankles, hands, wrists, elbows or knees

  • hot, swollen, red skin over the affected joint – redness may be harder to see on black or brown skin.

See a GP if you have symptoms of gout for the first time or if you have gout and your usual treatments are not helping. An attack of gout usually lasts one to two weeks if left untreated.

The NHS adds: "If you do not get treatment, future attacks may last even longer. Leaving gout untreated may cause lasting damage to joints."