Gout is a form of crystal arthritis caused by a failure to metabolise uric acid, causing an accumulation in the blood and tissue. The excess uric acid will begin to precipitate salts: monosodium urate monohydrate crystals.
These precipitate more easily in colder conditions, which is one reason why gout is most commonly seen to affect the metatarsophalangeal joint of the big toe. These needlelike crystals can cause extreme inflammation of the joint, leading to swelling, pain, cellulitis and fever.
Without treatment, gout can begin to affect multiple joints to such an extent that it can resemble rheumatoid arthritis with eventual degenerative effects.