Gout is a form of acute arthritis that causes severe pain and swelling in the joints. It most commonly affects the big toe, but may also affect the heel, ankle, hand, wrist, or elbow. Itaffects the spine often enough tobe a factor in back pain. Gout usually comes on suddenly, goes away after 5- 10 days, and can keep recurring. Gout is different from other forms ofarthritis because it occurs when there are high levels of uric acid circulating in the blood, which can cause urate crystals to settle in the tissues of the joints.