Gout is a form of arthritis, in which acidic crystals have accumulated within a joint capsule. It is often found in the hallux. “True gout” – hyperuricemia – involves deposits of uric acid (a by-product of protein metabolism); “pseudo gout” involves calcium pyrophosphate crystals (from the breakdown of purine proteins found in organ meats, sardines, anchovies).
Pain can be excruciating and is accompanied by redness, swelling, heat and the inability to bear weight and walk. Gout can lead to the development of kidney stones, so it is important that the person suffering with gout not ignore the symptoms.
Reflexologists can bring relief and support to someone living with gout.
But first, let’s look more closely at what causes gout and what the allopathic community does to address the condition.
Risk factors include high usage of aspirin, diuretics, niacin and sugar, and moderate to heavy alcohol intake. Excess weight gain (especially in youth), high blood pressure, dehydration, abnormal kidney function and an acidic diet can contribute.
Certain drugs and diseases can also cause elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Abnormally low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism) are often seen in patients with gout.
Gout was historically known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”, because of the historically lavish and decadent diets enjoyed by royalty in years gone by. Dietary causes account for about 12% of gout today and include a strong association with the consumption of alcohol, fructose-sweetened drinks, meat (especially organ) and seafood. Vegetables (e.g., beans, peas, lentils and spinach), once thought to contribute have been proven not to.
Gout has steadily risen in the United States over the last twenty years and now affects 8.3 million (4%) Americans. It is more common in men than in women and more prevalent in African-American men than Caucasian. The chances of having gout rise with age, with a peak age of 75. In women, gout attacks usually occur after menopause.
The most common strategy employed by western medicine is the intake of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Reflexology & natural approaches
If the person is experiencing a flare-up you will not be able to work the feet. The individual would refuse to let you touch his foot – it’s that painful!
Offer a cool foot soak instead with ½ cup of Epsom salt and a couple of drops of analgesic/anti-inflammatory essential oil. Let the client dry his/her own affected foot. Perform reflexology on the hands with a strong emphasis on the reflexes to the adrenals, kidneys and all lymph vessels and nodes.
It is beyond the scope of a reflexologist and/or massage therapist to give nutritional advise, but you can do your clients a big service by recommending they see a good nutritionist. The dietary association is high. There are many foods to avoid and many good ones to eat regularly that will help.
I have worked with many people over the years who have suffered with gout. It’s painful for me to just pay witness to these folks’ suffering, and at the same time, humbling to be able to bring much needed relief and pain reduction. I hope you will offer the same to your clients.