Massage therapy can help relieve the pain and inflammation of gout, a type of arthritis. New research shows the prevalence of gout in the U.S. has risen over the past two decades, and now affects 8.3 million Americans. Prior research found that gout incidence in the U.S. more than doubled from the 1960s to 1990s.

Gout is triggered by crystallization of uric acid within the joints, and causes severe pain and swelling, according to a press release from Wiley-Blackwell, which publishes Arthritis & Rheumatism, the journal in which the research ran.

“Medical evidence suggests that gout is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome—a group of health conditions characterized by central obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and blood lipid issues—and may lead to heart attack, diabetes and premature death,” the press release noted

An article published on the website of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, which offers classes in massage and other complementary therapies, notes, “While, at present, there are no cures for gout, massage can help to control the symptoms of gout and aid sufferers in maintaining a normal lifestyle whenever they experience a gout flare-up.” And a leading resource for gout treatments,, notes, “Massage and aromatherapy are just two elements of alternative treatment available for gout, and if you are a sufferer, even one who believes firmly in traditional medicine, they are worth considering.”

Greater frequency of obesity and hypertension may be associated with the jump in prevalence rates, according to the research.

“We found that the prevalences of gout and hyperuricemia [serum urate level greater than 7.0 mg/dL in men and 5.7 mg/dL in women] continue to be substantial in the U.S. adult population,” said Hyon Choi, M.D., professor of medicine in the Section of Rheumatology and the Clinical Epidemiology Unit at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts and senior investigator of the study. “Improvements in managing modifiable risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, could help prevent further escalation of gout and hyperuricemia among Americans.”

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