Gout is characterized by uric acid deposits in joints that can lead to extremely painful "attacks" usually affecting the foot at the time of initial onset. Though we all make uric acid and excrete it, some people accumulate more than others. For reasons that are not always completely understood, episodes of severe pain, swelling and redness can occur seemingly out of the blue. Traditional anti-inflammatory medications can treat the acute attack, but do nothing for overall control. Rather, a separate type of medication that lowers the uric acid in the system is necessary for long-term management. Uncontrolled levels of uric acid can lead to more frequent episodes of gout, multiple joint involvement, and significant joint damage. Uric acid levels can easily be measured by a simple blood test, however, proof of gout usually requires the demonstration of crystals after a small amount of fluid is removed from a joint and viewed under a special microscope. There are a number of risk factors for gout, but this is a condition that should be well-controlled over time.