Why Does Inflammation Cause Pain?

What is Inflammation?

 Inflammation is a required part of the human body’s response to infection and injury.  It is the process by which the human body’s white blood cells and the materials they generate protect us from infections and from foreign organisms. The cells and molecules that create inflammation are housed in the immune system, which contains an army of special cells, tissues, and other natural chemical substances that routinely look to guard the body against harm.

In the case of acute injury, the immune system begins an investigation for evidence of microbes creating infections.

Typically inflammation is caused by:

  • Germs such as bacteria, fungi or viruses
  • External injuries like a knee scrape or foreign objects like stepping on a piece of glass
  • The effects of radiation or chemicals

In the case of autoimmune diseases, the human body’s immune system causes an inflammatory response when there are not any foreign organisms to dispel. This causes damage to human tissue because the body is treating the tissues as if they are infected or otherwise abnormal.

Diseases That Are Associated With Inflammation

Most types of arthritis are the byproduct of this erroneous inflammatory response. Arthritis itself is a catchall term used to describe joint inflammation. Some of the more common arthritis types primarily associated with inflammation include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gouty arthritis.

 Disorders or conditions caused by inflammation typically have a name that ends in -itis. 

Common 'itis' disorders:

  • These include cystitis, which is an inflammation of the bladder
  • Otitis media which is an infection of the middle ear
  • Bronchitis which is inflammation of the bronchi
  • Arthritis which is the inflammation of the joints

Common symptoms of Arthritis

  • Loss of joint functionality
  • Stiffness of joints
  • Joint pain

It is common that only several of these symptoms present themselves during the inflammation response.

Inflammation may also produce flu-like symptoms

  • A loss of appetite
  • Stiffness of muscles
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Chills
  • Fever

Inflammation: a Deeper Look

 When an inflammatory response is triggered, the bodies white blood cells release chemicals into the bloodstream or into the affected tissues in order to protect the body from foreign substances.  This chemical release boosts blood flow to the injured or infected area and as a result may create redness or the feeling of warmth. As well this inflammatory process may also aggravate nerves and cause pain.

In the case of arthritis, the added number of cells and inflammatory chemicals in the joint area cause swelling of the joints’ lining, as well as irritation and a breakdown of cartilage in the area.

How do You Diagnose Inflammatory Diseases?

A careful evaluation is conducted that considers the following criteria:

A thorough medical history and physical examination that pays particular attention to painful joint patterns, joint stiffness in the morning, and an assessment of other symptoms. X-rays and blood test to also provide additional confirmatory evidence.

Internal Organs and Inflammation

Autoimmune disorders can also have an influence on internal organs. Symptoms will depend on the affected organs.

  • For example, in the case of myocarditis, this is an instance where the heart is affected by inflammation.
  • In the case of nephritis, the kidneys have been affected by inflammation, which may result in higher blood pressure or even kidney failure.
  • Tubes of the lungs are also prone to the negative effects of inflammation, and this may lead to shortness of breath.

Because most organs do not possess nerves that are pain sensitive, pain may not be a symptom of an inflammatory disorder. In order to treat organ inflammation, the root cause of inflammation must be targeted.

How do You Treat Inflammatory Joint Diseases

Typically inflammatory diseases are treated with medications, exercise, rest and surgery. Treatment prescriptions very depending on the type of disease, the individuals age, the medications they are already taking, the overall health of the individual, medical history, as well as the severity of presenting symptoms.

Treatment is generally designed to achieve the following goals:

  • Reducing joint stress
  • Increasing joint mobility and muscle strength
  • Lifestyle changes to avoid the activities that create pain
  • And overall to manage and ultimately treat the underlying cause of the disease

What Are The Typical Drugs Used in Treatment of Inflammatory Diseases?

There are a variety of drug options available to patients who are experiencing an inflammatory disease. They are designed to reduce joint pain, inflammation and swelling as well as to retard the advancement of the inflammatory disorder. The following drugs are frequently used in tandem because of their varying effects.

[tie_list type=”checklist”]
  • Corticosteroids
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antimalarial medications
  • Biologic drugs[/tie_list]

Does Inflammation Heal on Its Own?

The inflammation response has two phases: attack and heal. The attack phase is a response to a perceived foreign threat, while the healing stage attempts to regenerate damaged tissue and initiate the healing process.

Inflammation is a necessary and critical response of your body to a perceived threat. However, it can be indicated in various autoimmune conditions, in which case we have to proactively respond to the immune system’s incorrect assessment of a threat.

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