Management of acute and chronic gouty arthritis: present state-of-the-art

Drugs. 2004;64(21):2399-416. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200464210-00003.


There are three stages in the management of gout: (i) treating the acute attack; (ii) lowering excess stores of uric acid to prevent flares of gouty arthritis and to prevent tissue deposition of urate; and (iii) providing prophylaxis to prevent acute flares. It is important to distinguish between therapy to reduce acute inflammation in acute gout and therapy to manage hyperuricaemia in patients with chronic gouty arthritis. During the acute gouty attack nonpharmacological treatments such as topical ice and rest of the inflamed joint are useful. NSAIDs are the preferred treatment in acute gout. The most important determinant of therapeutic success is not which NSAID is chosen, but rather how soon NSAID therapy is initiated. Other treatments include oral and intravenous colchicine, intra-articular and systemic corticosteroids, and intramuscular corticotropin. Optimal treatment of chronic gout requires long-standing reduction in serum uric acid. The urate-lowering drugs used to treat chronic gout are the uricosuric drugs, the uricostatic drugs, which are xanthine oxidase inhibitors, and the uricolytic drugs. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors such as allopurinol, oxipurinol and febuxastat should be used as first-line treatment in patients with renal calculi, renal insufficiency, concomitant diuretic therapy and ciclosporin (cyclosporine) therapy, and urate overproduction. Uricosuric drugs include probenecid, benzbromarone, micronised fenofibrate and losartan. They are the urate-lowering drugs of choice in allopurinol-allergic patients and underexcretors with normal renal function and no history of urolithiasis. The use of recombinant urate oxidase in patients with chronic gout is limited by the need for parenteral administration, the potential antigenicity and production of anti-urate oxidase antibodies, and declining efficacy. The effectiveness of colchicine prophylaxis as an isolated therapy is still to be confirmed by placebo-controlled trials. Another issue is prophylaxis with NSAIDs. There are no comparative studies with colchicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Gouty / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Gouty / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Gouty / physiopathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colchicine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gout Suppressants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Uricosuric Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Gout Suppressants
  • Uricosuric Agents
  • Colchicine