Because dietary causes account for about 12% of gouty conditions, gout has historically been known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”. The heavy consumption of alcohol, fructose-sweetened drinks, red meats and seafood are all associated with the indulgent lifestyle of royalty and the wealthy hundreds of years ago.
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 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).
The prevalence of gout in the United States has risen over the last twenty years and now affects 8.3 million Americans.[i] Gout was listed for 2.3 million ambulatory care visits annually from 2001–2005.[ii] Uncontrolled gout can lead to the development of kidney stones.
- Excruciating pain
- Inflammation (redness, swelling and heat)
- Inability to bear weight
- Gender. Gout is the most common inflammatory condition affecting men.
- Race. Gout is more prevalent in African-American men than Caucasians.
- Age. Risk rises with age, with a peak age of 75. In women, gout attacks usually occur after menopause.
- Family history. If your parents have gout, then you have a 20% chance of developing it.
- Moderate to high intake of alcohol
- Acidic diet (meats, sugar)
- Diagnosis of Hyperuricemia. Approximately 21% of the US population suffering with gout have elevated blood uric acid levels.
- Obesity; excessive weight gain, especially in youth
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal kidney function
- Aspirin, diuretics, excessive niacin
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Drugs to lower blood uric acid levels
A Reflexologist’s approach
If the person is experiencing a flare-up you will not be able to work the feet. Do a foot soak and let the client dry his/her own affected foot. Offer reflexology on the hands. If the client’s condition is not acute, work the feet.
Hydrotherapy – cool foot soak, ½ cup Epsom salt, 1 drop of an analgesic or anti-inflammatory essential oil, such as German chamomile, Ginger, Eucalyptus globulus, Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint or Ylang ylang.
Techniques – full session on either the feet or hands with additional attention given to the lymphatic, adrenal and kidney reflexes.
It is very important that the individual suffering with gout look closely at all the risk factors involved with this debilitating condition, and attempt to reduce and/or replace as many as those factors as possible.
[i] Zhu Y, Pandya BJ, Choi HK. Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2008. Arthritis Rheum. 2011; 63(10):3136–3141.
[ii] United States Bone and Joint Decade: The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; 2008. Chapter 4. Arthritis and Related Conditions.