Acupuncture For Gout Pain

Gout sufferers in the Western World are becoming more and more open to the use of "exotic" alternative therapies to ease their painful symptoms, and the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture is one of those treatments. Medical experts in the West say the jury is still out as to the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of gout and other painful illnesses. However, some gout sufferers who have tried it themselves swear that acupuncture has not only helped them to control their pain and manage their daily lives, but has also reduced their number of gout attacks. The only way you can find out if it works for you is to give it a try. As with all forms of alternative medicine, talk to your doctor or health care provider before you begin treatment and make sure you read our section on Acupuncture Safety below.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative treatment in which very fine needles are inserted into specific points of the body and manipulated to control the flow energies within the patient. Acupuncture practitioners claim they can use the needles to influence the patient's nervous system, thereby reducing pain and other unpleasant symptoms from a wide range of illnesses, including gout. Acupuncturists tend to take a holistic approach and will therefore often consider the impact of environmental and lifestyle factors on a patient's condition. The practice of acupuncture is thought to have originated in China, but is also popular in many other parts of Eastern Asia, such as Japan. Acupuncture practitioners have become increasingly available in the United States and Europe in recent years.

How Could It Help Reduce Gout Pain?

Acupuncturists say their treatment calms the nervous system and stimulates the brain to release natural pain-killing chemicals such as endorphins, which can help gout sufferers to manage their pain and discomfort, as well as relax. They also say acupuncture can influence the levels of uric acid in the body. (It is the crystals that form when high levels of uric acid get into the joints that cause the nasty pain of gout). Therefore, say the acupuncturists, their treatment leads to a reduction in pain and the number of gout attacks a patient is likely to suffer.

Does It Really Work?

In China, acupuncture is used to treat a very wide range of illnesses and many Chinese have no doubts about its effectiveness. Studies carried out in Russia and China have concluded that acupuncture does help sufferers of gout and arthritis. Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional medical treatment for gout, but say some acupuncture alone is even more effective in bringing down uric acid levels than drugs or medicines. Here in the West, the medics are not so sure. However, some Western scientists have said that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for some illnesses. The effects of acupuncture therapy have been a subject of active research in the West since the late 20th century, but we are still waiting for conclusive results.

Acupuncture Safety

It is essential that your acupuncture practitioner has been properly trained and holds a license to practice in your country. Ask to see his or her paperwork if you have any doubts. The needles used must be absolutely sterile, that means fresh from the packet and clearly never used before. Likewise, the treatment environment must be clean and safe. If something regarding cleanliness doesn't feel right when you get in there, it probably isn't; trust your instincts. The best way to find a good acupuncturist is to ask your doctor or health care provider if they can recommend a licensed practitioner. If your doctor can't help you will have to shop around, but don't begin treatment until you have found someone you trust.