Your body’s first encounter with inflammation may have been when you got a cut that became red and swollen. This kind of inflammation is your body’s response to an injury or foreign invader such as a virus or bacteria. It is attempting to heal itself by sending white blood cells and other substances as a defense. But you may also be concerned about the chronic inflammation that you can’t see: the kind that may be happening deeper inside of your body.
There are two kinds of inflammation:
- Acute inflammation: Has a rapid onset. It usually only persists for a few days or weeks until the underlying cause goes away. Acute inflammation may have a variety of triggers, everything from an ingrown toenail and sinusitis to an overworked shoulder due to exercise. It may also be related to more serious conditions including appendicitis or meningitis.
- Chronic inflammation: This can endure for months or longer. It may result from a chronic irritant to an autoimmune response (where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, as in rheumatoid arthritis.) Chronic inflammation can domino, potentially undermining your health. It’s important to address chronic inflammation because it has been associated with some cancers and digestive diseases, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
With chronic inflammation, the “switch” to your body’s inflammatory response stays mostly in the “on” position. Chronic inflammation that it not associated with an autoimmune response may be triggered by stress, poor diet, too little sleep or even emotions such as anger, loneliness and hostility. Many healthcare professionals now associate chronic inflammation with everything from heart disease to cancer. All the more reason to eat a balanced diet, exercise, rest and finally get rid of that stress in your life!
Inflammation and joint pain
Most inflammation-related pain is caused by the swelling puts pressure against your sensitive nerve endings. That sends pain signals to the brain.
Sometimes, inflammation-rated joint pain is local, such as when you overuse or injure a joint. In most cases, the inflammation will do its job then it will go away. Self-care measures you might want to take in the meantime include Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE).
Osteoarthritis commonly affects knees, hips, spine, feet and hands. It can be triggered by degradation of the joint cartilages. Without healthy cartilage to cushion and help protect your joints, microscopic injuries can happen as you go about your daily activities. They never really go away, creating chronic inflammation. As the day wears on, the swelling and pain can worsen.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system damages its own tissues. The resulting inflammation causes fluid to build up in your joints. Managing rheumatoid arthritis-related inflammation can help to improve pain and mobility issues.