Gout does not only cause pain. Having gout, and especially chronic gout, can lead to serious health problems over time if left uncontrolled.
Tophi are clumps of urate crystals that harden under your skin. They can form on most joints and cartilage including your fingers, hands, feet, and/or ankles. Tophi also commonly form on the ears. Tophi may not cause pain, but can damage your joints, bones, and cartilage if left untreated.
Joint damage and deformity
When you have chronic gout, you have swelling in your joints regularly. Chronic inflammation and tophi can lead to permanent joint damage, deformity, and stiffness. In the worst cases of chronic gout, you may need surgery to fix joint damage, or replace joints.
You are at risk for getting kidney stones when you have gout, since urate crystals can build up in your urinary tract and form stones.
Kidney disease and kidney failure
Kidney stones made from urate crystals can build up in your kidneys, and can cause damage and scars. This kidney damage from urate crystals is thought to lead to kidney disease over time, especially if gout is left untreated.
Psychological and emotional problems
Chronic gout causes chronic and sometimes constant pain. Gout may affect your ability to walk, work, and carry out normal tasks. Living with pain can be emotionally distressing. Talk to your doctor about the impact gout has on your emotional health, and ask for suggestions about ways to cope with it.