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Review suggests acupuncture an effective complementary treatment for gout

Published on 26 February 2013
Review suggests acupuncture an effective complementary treatment for gout

Research published in the journal Rheumatology suggests that acupuncture is an effective complementary treatment for patients suffering from gout.

The painful condition is characterised by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints and tissues that can lead to inflammation, intense pain and flaky skin over affected areas. Often, it affects the joint of the big toe.

Colleagues at Kyung Hee University in South Korean capital of Seoul analysed the results of ten different randomised controlled trials involving 852 gout patients to come to the conclusion.

In total, records from five different electronic databases were searched including lists of English and Chinese trials. All those involving acupuncture in combination with conventional gout therapy were included in the systematic review.

The team found that six studies containing 512 patients made a strong argument for reduction in uric acid levels in gout patients who had received complementary acupuncture treatment as compared to the control group. A further two studies containing 120 patient records indicated no significant difference.

Four studies comprising 380 patients also suggested a significant decline in the visual signs of the painful arthritic condition among members of the treatment group.

Overall, the team – led by Won Bok Lee of the university's Department of East-West Medicine, concluded that acupuncture is effective when combined with traditional gout treatments.

"The results of the studies included here suggest that acupuncture is efficacious as complementary therapy for gouty arthritis patients," they wrote.

"More research and well-designed, rigorous and large clinical trials are necessary to address these issues."

Arthritis Research UK's new complementary therapies report showed that acupuncture is effective in relieving the pain of low back pain, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. The charity is currently running a trial to examine the effectiveness of a nurse-led package of care for gout patients in a general practice setting.

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