6 doctors weighed in:

Does high uric acid level damage joints?

6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Joseph Hermann
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Not by itself

High uric acid, by itself, cannot damage joints.
If and when it causes gouty arthritis can joint damage result. This type of arthritis may manifest in many different ways, from the solitary attack to multiple attacks and chronic arthritis over time. High uric acid, again, may be harmless, or it can also cause kidney problems, so get a urinalysis and kidney function tests to be on the safe side.

In brief: Not by itself

High uric acid, by itself, cannot damage joints.
If and when it causes gouty arthritis can joint damage result. This type of arthritis may manifest in many different ways, from the solitary attack to multiple attacks and chronic arthritis over time. High uric acid, again, may be harmless, or it can also cause kidney problems, so get a urinalysis and kidney function tests to be on the safe side.
Dr. Joseph Hermann
Dr. Joseph Hermann
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David Miller
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Indirectly

High uric acid levels can cause crystals to form in the joints, causing the pain, joint damage and other problems in gout.

In brief: Indirectly

High uric acid levels can cause crystals to form in the joints, causing the pain, joint damage and other problems in gout.
David Miller
David Miller
Answer assisted by David Miller, Medical Student
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Dr. Angus Worthing
Internal Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: If gout occurs

Uric acid does not damage joints.
But, if it gets too concentrated (>6 in blood test) it forms crystals that the body can "notice" and this triggers redness, swelling and pain mainly in/around joints. This is gout, and it starts in about 5% of people with a uric acid of 9 (per year). Recurrent gout flares cause joint damage which can cause persistent pain.

In brief: If gout occurs

Uric acid does not damage joints.
But, if it gets too concentrated (>6 in blood test) it forms crystals that the body can "notice" and this triggers redness, swelling and pain mainly in/around joints. This is gout, and it starts in about 5% of people with a uric acid of 9 (per year). Recurrent gout flares cause joint damage which can cause persistent pain.
Dr. Angus Worthing
Dr. Angus Worthing
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Dr. Michael Laccheo
Internal Medicine - Rheumatology

In brief: Possibly

It is possible but not necessary.
If you only have hyperuricemia without gout or tophi formation, then no. If you develop chronic tophaceous gout, the tophi (large collections of crystals made from uric acid) can cause joint damage and erosions. In general, it is not recommended to treat elevated uric acid levels unless there is another medical problem like gout, heart failure or renal disease.

In brief: Possibly

It is possible but not necessary.
If you only have hyperuricemia without gout or tophi formation, then no. If you develop chronic tophaceous gout, the tophi (large collections of crystals made from uric acid) can cause joint damage and erosions. In general, it is not recommended to treat elevated uric acid levels unless there is another medical problem like gout, heart failure or renal disease.
Dr. Michael Laccheo
Dr. Michael Laccheo
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