Gout is caused by a build – up of uric acid crystals in the
joints. This can occur in the hands,
wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and feet.
The most commonly effected joints are the knees, ankles and big toe. Gout affects men 4 times more than women under the age of 65. Men typically develop gout after the age of 30, this may be due to the fact that uric acid levels can be elevated for 20 - 30 years before causing any problems. Initial onset is generally triggered by a specific event preceding the attack, such as overconsumption of alcohol or greasy / rich foods or foods high in purines, certain drugs (low-dose aspirin, niacin and thiazide diuretics), trauma, or surgery.
Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of purines (crystalline compounds), which are found in body tissues and certain foods like meat. Our bodies have no use for uric acid and under normal physiological conditions will eliminate it through urination. There are two ways for uric acid to accumulate in the body, 1) overproduction or 2) the kidneys are not able to eliminate it.
Leukemia and other blood cancers
Throbbing, excruciating pain (usually starts at night in
Redness accompanied by warmth
Fever (in some cases)
Tophi (lumps under the skin around joints caused by deposits
of uric acid; these are seen more in chronic cases)
Attack may only last a few days, but people usually have
another attack within 6-12 months.
The diagnostic gold standard for gout is the analysis of synovial fluid or tophi for urate crystals. A blood test may be ordered to look at the serum uric acid levels, but this test is not used to diagnose gout, because even though uric acid levels in the blood may be elevated in most cases, it can also be the case that it's normal; which is true for 30% of men. In this small group of cases, gout manifests due to a rapid drop in uric acid levels.
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In Eastern medicine gout can be caused by improper diet, congenital deficiencies, invasion by the elements (combination of wind - damp and cold), and never fully recovering from a chronic illness. If there is an external invasion by wind - damp cold this will enter into the meridians and cause an obstruction, which will inhibit the flow of blood and other body fluids. This can cause extreme pain that is fixed in location, joint stiffness, worse with exposure to cold and damp conditions, and ameliorated by warmth.
Dampness can also be caused by improper diet, and after time can combine with internal cold from deficiency or internal heat. In the latter case, the pain will be more of an achiness accompanied by swelling and heat; there may also be signs of constipation and a red tongue. Typically, there is also Qi stagnation & Blood stasis, which tend to manifest in tandem. If there isn't a smooth flow of Qi than all other fluids tend to become static, which causes pain. These are just a few of the possible patterns involved in gout, and don't take into consideration any underlying conditions that are contributing to the disease mechanism.
As related to gout, the major organs involved are the Spleen, Liver and Kidneys. In Eastern medicine, the Spleen is responsible for the transformation (nutrient extraction from food) & transportation (of nutrients & waste products), and the production of Qi and blood. If the Spleen becomes dysfunctional from an improper diet or excess consumption of alcohol, then it will not be able to perform its duties in terms of metabolism.
Improper diet and excessive alcohol intake, along with stress, frustration and depression also affect the Liver, which plays an important role with Spleen in metabolism. Purines are primarily catabolized in the Liver and yielding the end product uric acid, which is then released into the blood stream. Liver dysfunction is commonly seen in Westerners, which leads to Liver Qi stagnation and blood stasis. Another contributing factor to this and many other Western diseases is the consumption of products that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which can damage the Liver (5), and raise serum uric acid levels.(6)
The Kidneys role in gout is related both to inherited deficiencies, usually metabolic in nature, and in their ability to excrete uric acid. In Eastern medicine the Kidneys are very important, as they are viewed as the source of life; containing the essence received from the mother and father, and functionally, they are responsible for the growth and development of the body, and reproduction. When the Kidneys become deficient, this has an effect on fluid metabolism, and metabolism in general in relation to the energy needed for the actual process. If the Kidneys are not working at full capacity, then obviously they will not be able to effectively eliminate uric acid from the system.
Like any other diseases that we treat, we use an integrative approach, which includes acupuncture, herbal therapy, and recommendations on lifestyle changes; especially with regards to nutrition. Our treatment protocols are based on treating the acute or chronic presentation, but also treating the root of the problem, and any underlying conditions that are allowing gout to manifest. Generally speaking, this often ends up being metabolic in nature and directly linked to the patient's lifestyle, so our ultimate goal is to bring down the urate levels into an "optimal health" range.
In a meta - analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), it was found that acupuncture was an efficacious therapy for gout. Electroacupuncture has been proven effective as a treatment due to its anti-inflammatory effects.[8,9] In another study, electroacupuncture was found more effective compared to Western drugs (Allopurinol and probenecid) in reducing urate levels, and improving the excretion of uric acid. 
Through the use of acupuncture and herbal therapy we are able to bring your bodies organ systems back into balance, in particular, increasing the functional efficiency of the Spleen, Liver, and kidneys. For a more detailed look at the treatment process, which covers relief care to wellness care, please visit our New Patient Center.