Many people in Pennsylvania suffer from gout, one type of inflammatory arthritis that is caused by higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in the body. Gout is associated with severe joint pain, which often emerges late at night or during sleep. However, in order for gout patients to receive appropriate treatment, they must first receive a correct diagnosis. In many cases, patients may first be diagnosed with another illness before their gout is finally discovered.

While gout is known for a presentation in the big toe, many patients also feel pain in their wrists, elbows or knees. People with joint pain might also have an infection, known as septic arthritis, a bacterial skin infection, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or even a stress fracture. One alternative diagnosis is even called pseudogout because it can appear so similar to gout. This disease is marked by the deposit of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation. The two diseases have some similarities, but a misdiagnosis can cause patients to suffer in pain because of medical mistakes or inattention.

Because gout can cause a fever or a high white blood cell count, it can also mimic an infection. Septic arthritis is a joint infection, while cellulitis is a skin infection caused by bacterial infiltration of the body, typically through a cut on the leg. Both require antibiotic treatment and have entirely different causes than gout. Other types of arthritis can also be confused with gout, and tests of blood and joint fluid can help to distinguish them from one another.

Misdiagnoses can be dangerous and harmful, because patients may receive incorrect treatment that causes side effects while being denied effective treatment for their gout. People who have suffered worsened health due to a doctor’s error may consult with a medical malpractice attorney about options to pursue compensation.