Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for the relief of gout. Researchers at Foshan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital combined auricular acupuncture with hot needle acupuncture and determined that the combined approach significantly improved the effectiveness of drug treatment. Drug monotherapy produced a total efficacy rate of 81.67%. Adding acupuncture to the treatment regimen increased the total effectiveness to 95%. Equally important, the rate of complete recovery was significantly higher in patients who received acupuncture.
A 10-point visual analogue scale (VAS) for joint pain was used to assess pain levels. Blood tests were done before and after treatment to determine the levels of uric acid in the blood. Efficacy rates have been classified into the following 4 levels:
- Fully recovered: symptoms disappeared, mobility was restored, uric acid in the blood dropped by more than 80%
- Significant efficacy: symptoms clearly relieved, mobility markedly improved, blood uric acid level reduced from 60% to 80%
- Effective: Symptoms relieved, mobility improved, blood uric acid level decreased by 40% to 60%
- Ineffective: symptoms persisted, reduced mobility, uric acid in blood remained the same
In the acupuncture group, 28 cases fully recovered, 24 were significantly effective, 5 were effective, and 3 were ineffective. In the control group, 20 were fully recovered, 23 were significantly effective, 6 were effective, and 11 were ineffective. The total efficacy rate was 95% in the acupuncture group, higher than that of the monotherapy group at 81.67%. 
VAS scores changed more significantly in the acupuncture group from 7.13 ± 0.56 to 2.10 ± 0.14, while the change in the monotherapy treatment group was smaller, of 7. 09 ± 0.58 to 3.37 ± 0.26. Blood uric acid also experienced a greater reduction in the acupuncture group, from 540.83 ± 60.68 to 326.85 ± 45.63. The blood uric acid level before and after treatment in the monotherapy drug group was 541.07 ± 60.14 and 380.99 ± 46.15, respectively. Based on the data, researchers confirm that acupuncture helps relieve pain in the joints, improve joint flexibility, and reduce uric acid levels in the blood.
For all patients in the study, alcohol and foods high in purines were strictly prohibited for both groups. Gout (hyperuricemia) is a type of inflammatory arthritis characterized by excess uric acid in the body. Uric acid is produced when purines are processed in the body. Uric acid crystals build up in joints, body fluids, and tissues and can lead to inflammation and pain. Examples of foods high in purines are anchovies, grains, herring, liver, mackerel, mussels, sardines, and yeast. Find out more in the Acupuncture CEU Classes Treatments for gout at HealthCMi.
In addition to diet therapy, both groups received celecoxib (0.2 g per day, taken daily) for ten consecutive days. Known by its brand name CeleBREX, it is a Cox-2 inhibitor which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Celecoxib works effectively by reducing hormones in the body that are responsible for pain and inflammation. Patients in the acupuncture group received identical dietetic and drug treatment, as well as the following acupuncture points:
- Sympathetic (AH6a, Jiaogan: little finger)
- Endocrine (CO18, Neifenmi: auricular)
- HT7 (Shenmen)
- BL23 (Shenshu)
Acupuncture needles (0.30 × 25 mm) were inserted and twisted slightly to obtain a feeling of numbness or swelling. After obtaining the deqi, the needles were kept for 20 minutes. This procedure was carried out every other day for 10 days.
As for the hot needle acupuncture treatment, it was administered daily. Filiform needles (0.30 mm × 50 mm) were used. After the arrival of the deqi, the needles were connected with 2 cm of moxa at the ends. Two pieces of moxa were used for each stitch. The following points were used:
- BL23 (Shenshu)
- BL20 (Pishu)
- BL17 (Geshu)
- GB34 (Yanglingquan)
- SP3 (Taibai)
This 10 day intensive care course produced significant pain relief and improvements in blood uric acid levels. Adding acupuncture to the regimen has produced better patient outcomes compared to drug monotherapy.
The study used a sample of 120 patients from May 2019 to May 2020. For all patients, gout was diagnosed by a physician and uric acid crystals were identified in the synovial fluid and tophi were documented. . A tophus is a sign of gout. Under the microscope, tophi are structures made up of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals, inflammatory cells, and connective tissue.
All patients were randomly assigned to a drug control group and an acupuncture group, with 60 patients in each group. The control group consisted of 28 women and 32 men. The age range was 41 to 68 years old. The mean age was 54.61 ± 3.80 years. The course of the disease ranged from 3 months to 4 years. The mean course of the disease was 1.53 ± 0.71 years. The acupuncture group consisted of 27 women and 33 men. The age range was 40 to 68 years old. The mean age was 54.58 ± 3.79 years. The course of the disease ranged from 2 months to 3 years. The mean course of the disease was 1.49 ± 0.72 years.
Data confirms that acupuncture produces significant clinical improvements. Considering the level of structural damage, pain, inflammation, disability, and increased risk of death associated with gout, adding acupuncture to a regimen is appropriate.
1. Clinical Effects of Gout Treatment in Patients with Auricular Acupuncture and Warm Acupuncture, Lu Junguang, Liting, Liang Jianliang, Inner Mongolia Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Vol.40, No.7, 2021.