Is Massage an Effective Treatment for Gout?

Category: Health
Last updated on: 16/05/2019
Painful big toe from gout

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that can cause sudden and acute pain in certain joints of your body. The pain is often accompanied by swelling in the affected area. Gout pain is most commonly felt in the big toe, but can also affect the joints in your fingers, knees, elbows or wrists.

Gout usually affects men who are middle-aged and older, but can affect women too, especially after menopause. The condition is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood that assembles over time and forms into crystalline deposits. These deposits end up against the cartilage and bones that form our joints and cause severe pain and swelling.

Some people have gout as a hereditary condition but often it occurs as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices over a longer period of time. It is painful and miserable to suffer from gout but the good news is that the condition does not usually lead to long-term joint damage. Furthermore, if you spot it and take action soon, gout can be relatively easily controlled and treated.


Have I got gout?

Gout is unrelated to specific physical injuries. So if you stubbed your big toe whilst playing football, the resultant pain is unlikely to be gout related. However, if you have not been injured but are experiencing sudden sharp pains around your big toe or wrists, you may have developed gout.

Especially if you have been living life fast and hard.

Regularly consuming an excess of alcoholic drinks and eating too many fatty foods are keys contributors to the development of gout. You are particularly at risk if you favour beer and spirits or foods that cause gout such as red meat or shellfish. Other factors which further increase your risk of getting gout are being overweight, living a stress filled life or suffering from high blood pressure.

Getting gout pain attacks on a regular basis is fairly uncommon. If you do find that you are getting frequent attacks, this may be an indicator of more serious underlying health issues developing in the background. One such complication can be when the excess uric acid crystallises into the urinary tract, leading to kidney problems such as kidney stones if left untreated.

Because the symptoms of gout are similar to other arthritic conditions, it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. However, your GP will usually take a blood test to check the levels of uric acid in your blood as well as inspecting X-rays of the painful joints to identify whether they have any crystalline deposit built up around them.


What is the best way to treat gout?

For almost instant pain relief from gout, consider localised massage at the point of pain. You can get a qualified healthcare professional such as a massage therapist to treat you or even try giving yourself a foot massage.

Massage therapy is well known to increase blood circulation in and around the areas to which it is applied. If you have a damaged joint, then knots in the surrounding muscles can further irritate and increase the level of discomfort that you will feel during a gout attack. Using gentle massage strokes is an especially effective technique for relaxing those muscles and reducing any tension around tight spots.

In areas like fingers, which can also be affected by gout, massage techniques similar to those used for treating repetitive strain injury can help relax the body and mind and begin to ease suffering. The most popular treatments for treating gout are Physio-style massage, Shiatsu and Classic Swedish massage.

An extended course of massage treatments over a period of time can provide additional benefits beyond short term pain relief and relaxation. The increased rate of blood flow through the affected areas may help to shift some of the built up crystal deposits away from the damaged joints. Massage therapy is known to promote a healthier lifestyle attitude. Getting a massage once a week for example can convert you into a calmer person who cares more about living a healthier lifestyle.

Alongside massage, anti-inflammatory medications such as Nurofen are often prescribed to provide gout pain relief within 2 hours. If you prefer a drug-free alternative, then try placing a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack against the inflamed and painful area for immediate relief.

Over the longer term, positive lifestyle changes such as curbing excess alcohol consumption and improving your diet to encourage some weight loss can help reduce or even completely remove gout attacks.

Bear in mind that it is probably never a good idea to go on a crash diet. Sudden or extreme lifestyle changes can adversely affect your strength and stamina and cause further stress on already weakened joints. Crash dieting also usually only lasts for a few weeks before you find yourself back in the old routine again. The effects of alcohol and a poor diet lead to gout developing steadily over time. Massage therapies, diet and exercise are great for helping cure the issue for the long term.

Remember it was life in the fast lane that got you that painful big toe. Try easing back a little, give your joints and mind a break and go slow and steady for the best chance to treat your gout.



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