Gout is a common form of arthritis. The condition presents itself as a sudden onset of swelling, redness and pain in and around the joint of the big toe. The condition is caused by high uric acid levels in the blood and the result of this is needle-like crystals formation in and around the joints. In the past two decades, the prevalence of this condition in the United States has been increasing steadily. Approximately 1-2% of the population of the U.S. is estimated to suffer from the disease.
The most common causes of gout include consumption of a diet high in protein, being male in gender, having a family history of gout, excessive alcohol consumption, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diuretic use, obesity, uric acid overproduction and metabolic syndrome. Treatment for gout varies depending on whether the condition is chronic or acute. Complementary therapies such as massage are commonly sought in addition to the available medical treatments.
Massage focuses on the whole body, but in particular, on areas that experience pain due to diseased joints. It is an ancient therapy designed to enhance the body's natural healing mechanisms. Massage is designed to stimulate the metabolism, improve the circulation of blood to the damaged joints and to the muscular tissue surrounding them, reduce experience of pain, and avoid spasms. Pain relief from massage may be quick or make take numerous massage sessions, depending on the degree of pain experienced.
Acupressure is a form of stiff, deep massage performed only with bare hands. Massage practitioners utilize the palms, thumbs and fingertips to perform the massage. Movements are made with the hands in firm yet smooth manner on specific pressure points on the body. Conventional massage and acupressure differ in that conventional massage adopts use of massage oils.
While massage may be an ancient therapy, there is sufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness. Much of the research into massage focuses on osteoarthritis caused by gout-related generative joint changes in the big toe, foot, ankles, knees, fingers, elbows and wrists. The Touch Research Institute based at the University of Miami investigated the effectiveness of massage on wrist/hand arthritis in 22 adults. Participants in the massage group received massage on the area affected by arthritis once a week for four weeks in duration and also performed self-massage on the area on a daily basis. Participants in the massage group reported less pain and greater relief from their arthritis than participants in the other research group.
Adam I. Perlman, Alyse Sabina, Anna-Leila Williams, Valentine Yanchou Njike and David L. Katz conducted a randomized controlled trial into the effectiveness of massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee joint, a joint commonly affected by gout. The study involved 68 adults, all of whom were confirmed to have been suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, were split into two groups: a treatment group and a control group. Those in the treatment group received twice-weekly Swedish massage therapy during weeks 1-4 and once-weekly massage sessions during weeks 5-8. The control group received what was described as delayed intervention. The results of the study, published in 2006, demonstrated significantly reduced experience of pain and improved functionality of the knee in the treatment group. This led researchers to conclude that massage therapy appeared to be effective in the treatment of arthritis of the knee joint.
While at present there are no cures for gout, massage can help to control the symptoms of gout and aid sufferers in maintaining a normal lifestyle whenever they experience a gout flare-up.