Tophi are chalky, gritty accumulations of uric acid crystals that build up in the soft tissue of a gouty joint, often occurring in the elbow or the joints of the fingers or toes. Tophi develop if gout is not treated for an extended period of time.
When tophi are located just under the skin, they are usually firm and movable. The overlying skin may be thin and red. Tophi that are very near the surface of the skin may appear cream-coloured or yellow. If gout progresses without treatment, tophi may form in the cartilage of the external ear or the tissues around the joint (bursae, ligaments, and tendons), resulting in pain, swelling, redness, and warmth (inflammation). Progressive crippling and destruction of cartilage and bone is possible. Fortunately, advances in the early treatment of gout have made this stage of gout uncommon.
Current as of: August 21, 2015
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.