Gout is an acute form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs in joints and their surrounding tendons. It affects only one joint initially, and usually the metatarsalphalangeal joint of the foot. (This is the joint between the great toe and the rest of the foot that, in reflexology, corresponds to the first zone shoulder line.)
Gout results from hyperuricaemia, a condition of increased levels of uric acid crystals in the blood that develops unrealized over years. The crystals literally cut through the synovial fluid sacks surrounding the joints, releasing the synovial fluid, and leaving the joint unprotected.
There are a number of factors that can precipitate hyperuricaemia and the resulting painful, recurrent gouty attacks on the joints; and much that can be done to prevent and manage an existing diagnosis. I know from my own clinical experience that reflexology can play a notable role in assisting people suffering from this swollen, red, hot, shiny and extremely painful condition. Imagine trying to walk!
One to two percent of the western world is said to suffer with gout. A doubling of the number of cases between 1990 and 2010 is mostly due to the dietary changes in our society (genetics can also play a role) that have led to an increase in metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance, develops from what has been termed the “rich man’s lifestyle”: a diet high in alcohol, sugar products, meat and seafood, and low on physical activity. Use of diuretics, niacin and aspirin are also associated with the development of gout.
Although it is possible to have hyperuricaemia without the presence of gouty arthritis, it is rare. The body will make every attempt to push toxins externally, away from the body’s core. In the absence of gout, hyperuricaemia may manifest as kidney stones and “tophi” (superficial, painless nodules that result in deformity, if left untreated).
WHAT TO DO
A dedicated multi-factorial approach is necessary to overcome gout. Doctors recommend an avoidance of alcohol, fructose-laden foods and obesity. Exercise, vitamin C, and moderate consumption of coffee and dairy products are known to decrease the risk of insulin resistance and subsequent attacks of gout. Restoring a healthy digestive tract through dietary changes and the use of herbs designed to keep urates soluble provide big benefits to sufferers. During an attack, soaking the foot in a warm epsom salt bath, followed by icing of the joint for 10 to 20 minutes, three times a day is suggested.
Since gout attacks occur more at night, when the body’s temperature has dropped and is tired, sufferers might also want to look at their sleep habits. Get plenty of regular sleep; go to bed before you’re exhausted and keep the body warm.
Reflexology can decrease the pain associated with inflammation, support the taxed adrenal glands, help to flush the body of excess uric acid crystals and relax a hyper-stimulated body fighting an attack.
During a bout of gout, the individual will not want you near the inflamed joint. So, if the foot is affected, work the hands. Work the adrenal, kidney and all the lymphatic reflexes thoroughly. Following the Law of Similars, work the metacarpalphalangeal joint on the corresponding hand, including range-of-motion movements. If gout is present in joints other than in the feet or hands, work the reflex for that area of the body. Between attacks, work the affected extremity.
Please note that reflexology will assist in the recovery of gout. It is not a substitute for the lifestyle changes necessary to overcome this painful condition.
Do you suffer from gout? Have you ever provided reflexology to clients with gout? What were the results?