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Gout Massage

What Is a Gout Massage and Can It Actually Help?

Question:

I woke up one morning and couldn’t bend my knee or even put any weight on that leg without excruciating pain. After a nervous trip to the doctor and some additional testing, I was diagnosed with gout. I’ve instituted some changes in my diet and am taking medication, but flare-ups still seem to occur for no reason. I know massage is frequently used to treat other forms of arthritis – is there a massage that could help my gout?

Answer:

Gout is a fairly common form of arthritis. Between 1 and 2 percent of the US population suffers from this disease.[1] The Arthritis Foundation recommends regular massage to significantly reduce the pain associated with all forms of arthritis. Regular massage also decreases stiffness and improves your range of motion for an overall improvement in the function of your joints.[2]

Despite this rousing endorsement, massage therapy has received a rather lukewarm reception in the relatively few medical studies of its effectiveness. One review of studies published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation noted that there was only low- to moderate-quality evidence to suggest that massage therapy was superior to other therapies in reducing pain, and concluded that it was unclear whether massage therapy was more effective than any other form of treatment.[3]

However, it’s important to remember that massage therapy has many other benefits, including reduction of muscular tension and overall stress, along with few if any adverse side effects. For this reason alone, it’s worth giving massage therapy a try as a complement to the other treatments you’re already receiving for gout. While participating in massage therapy, it’s important to maintain your diet and continue taking your medications as prescribed. Don’t stop your medications without first consulting your doctor, even if your joint condition improves. As you well know, painful flare-ups of gout can occur sporadically and seemingly without any reason.[4]

In one study conducted by the University of Miami Touch Research Institute, gout patients were massaged once a week for four weeks. At the end of the study, the patients who’d received regular massages reported less pain and greater relief from other symptoms than patients who didn’t receive massages.[5]

Look for a massage therapist who has experience treating patients with arthritis, and observe caution if you have other physical conditions, including damaged or eroded joints, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or varicose veins. These conditions can make regular massage uncomfortable or painful. Book a session once a week for 4 to 6 weeks to start. If you don’t notice any improvement after that time, you can discontinue the treatment. Keep in mind massage therapy should make your gout feel better – not worse. If anything the massage therapist is doing causes you pain, speak up and let them know so they can adjust their technique accordingly.[6]

References:

 

[1] Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: “Massage for Gout,” https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/01/09/massage-gout

[2] Arthritis Foundation: “Benefits of Massage,” https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php

[3] American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: “Massage Therapy for Pain and Function in Patients With Arthritis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28177937

[4] Arthritis Foundation: “Benefits of Massage,” https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php

[5] Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: “Massage for Gout,” https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/01/09/massage-gout

[6] Arthritis Foundation: “Benefits of Massage,” https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php

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