I am a 25-year-old male, and my big toe swells, gets red, and feels like it is on fire. Is it possible I have gout? How will the doctor determine gout? What test will be done, blood test or an x-ray?
Gout is a very real possibility. Usually, gout affects men over the age of 30. Most importantly, infection should be ruled-out. The best way to determine why a joint is swollen and painful is to look at the joint fluid. Urate cystals confirm the diagnosis of gout. Calcium crystals are found in "pseudogout." Pus means you have an infection.
Blood tests can point to important clues with white blood cell counts, uric acid levels, and blood cultures (if neccessary). X-rays probably won't be helpful in this early stage (unless you recently dropped a hammer on your toe). See your doctor to sort things out.
By the way, some occupations (like carpet installers) are more likely to develop big toe problems. A steel toe boot will prevent that problem.
Dr. Christina Lasich, MD
10 Little Know Facts about Gout
How to Exercise with Gout
How to Travel with Gout
Yes, it is very important that labs be done. I was being treated for gout for one week (based on an ER doc's observation only), without any improvement, and by that time, I had a strep infection in the bone which was already eating up my foot. Six months, 7 surgeries, 2 months of PT later, and permanent damage causing a limp and increased susceptibility to this recurring, this could have all been avoided if the ER doc or my PCP had just done labs to check my white blood county. It was sky high!!