It’s a bit of an odd situation; maybe even a little ironic. If you look at Active Health’s list of Services, you see that most of them can be used to treat inflammation.
Where’s the irony in that? Well, inflammation is actually a symptom of your body’s system of self-defense against a number of perceived harmful threats. So one of the main symptoms that our clients trust us to treat is really one of the body’s ways of treating itself.
But many of the symptoms of inflammation, like pain, are uncomfortable to us and that’s why we try to ‘get rid’ of it. In fact, the proper way to treat inflammation is to control it (sometimes the body gets over-zealous about healing itself) and to promote its effects (which reduces the how long we suffer its symptoms) instead of actually eliminating the inflammation, which might prolong an injury.
The PRISH of Inflammation
While inflammation is a complicated biological response, its symptoms are plainly, or painfully, clear. While you might not be able to list them off the top of your head (unless you remember the acronym PRISH for pain, redness, immobility, swelling and heat) you’ll experience and recognize them after even the simplest of injuries.
When a sliver of woods slices under your skin, your body’s considers it a threat, your immune system goes into action, and you suffer inflammation’s symptoms through the follow steps.
1. Identify the Threat
The immune cells in the area quickly determine if the threat is due to a pathogen, like bacteria or viruses, or an injury, like a twisted ankle. In the case of a sliver, the threat could come from both a pathogen, like bacteria in the wood, and injury, from the damage the sliver did to your body’s cells.
2. Increase Blood Flow to the Are
Like deploying troops to fight an invader, the body sends more blood to the area. The blood releases healing oxygen, tissue-building proteins and white blood cells to attack any harmful pathogens.
The increased blood flow causes many of inflammation’s symptoms, including redness and heat, while the release of the attacking and healing cells and fluids also contribute to the swelling around the sliver.
3. Increase the Sensitivity to Pain
Some of the fluids released by the blood also increase the sensitivity to pain in the area around the sliver. The pain keeps you from touching or using the area, which might worsen the damage.
The immobility you might experience from joint inflammation, like when you can’t bend a twisted knee, is a reflex to the pain, which also helps to reduce the chance of further injury.
Acute & Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is classified as either acute or chronic.
the example of the sliver, or the twisted ankle, illustrate your body’s response to acute inflammation, which may be severe, but eventually gets resolved by your body and/or medical treatment and physical therapies.
when the inflammation isn’t resolved, it can be suffered for an extended period of time and may be classified as chronic inflammation. The prolonged inflammation could be due to repetitive strain injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, repeated inflammation triggers, like insulin that repeatedly spikes due to high sugar consumption, or diseases that cause an inflammation response to a particular area of your body, even when no threat is present there, like arthritis.
Chronic inflammation can have more serious side-effects than just redness and swelling. It can actually lead to a change in the cells around the inflamed area and result in the ongoing, simultaneous destruction and healing of tissue in the area.
While all inflammation can be painful, acute inflammation is more easily treatable and really just part of your body’s healing process. Chronic inflammation, however, can result in scarring, nerve damage and other, non-physical symptoms, including depression.
In Reduce Chronic Inflammation & Be Healthier – Part 2, we’ll look at the role diet can play in promoting chronic inflammation and how transforming your diet will not only eliminate some chronic inflammation, but help you lose weight and be healthier at the same time.