LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Extra-articular symptoms could be the first manifestation of gouty arthritis (GA); polyarticular GA can mimic an infectious arthritis; infection can complicate GA.
CASE: A 66-year-old male with a history of gout presented with high fever and excruciating bilateral calf pain for 1 day. Examination revealed chronic knee effusions; range of motion in both knees was limited by calf pain. Joint aspiration showed negatively birefringent intracellular crystals and normal gram stain.
HOSPITAL COURSE: While receiving empiric antibiotics fever continued and he developed bilateral knee, right ankle, and shoulder pain. After demonstration of urate crystals and exclusion of infection, antibiotics were discontinued and steroids initiated. Fever, calf pain, and polyarthritis quickly resolved.
DISCUSSION: Polyarticular gouty attack is an uncommon presentation of gout, and can mimic several other conditions. An exceptional presentation of this entity is excruciating calf pain, probably caused by tenosynovitis or referred pain preceding an acute polyarticular gouty attack.