Inflammation: What Is it, and Where Does it Come From?

The word inflammation brings to mind redness and swelling, accompanied by tightness, aches, and stabbing pains. However, inflammation at its core isn’t bad; it’s your body’s natural response to an injury or attack on your immune system. Inflammatory cells are designed to show up on the scene and fight bacteria or viruses, and start the healing process in damaged tissue.

The real problem is when your inflammatory response becomes overactive, seeing problems that aren’t really there, or that they can’t fix, including autoimmune disorders or degenerative diseases. Chronic inflammation is one of the first symptoms of diseases like arthritis.

At her medical office in Columbia, Missouri, Bonnie S. Friehling, MD provides regenerative medicine and pain management options with the assistance of Angela Wooden, RN. These treatments can help you live with chronic inflammation.

What is inflammation?

Viruses, bacteria, and toxic chemicals cause your body’s defense mechanisms to kick into gear. So do injuries like cuts, scrapes, or surgical sites. When your immune system is woken up, it sends out inflammatory cells as well as cytokines to keep the inflammatory response going.

An inflammatory response traps bacteria and other offending agents, and jumpstarts the healing process. As the area heals, the inflammation recedes. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen in normal acute inflammation.

However, for some people, the inflammatory response is too easily triggered or never really turns off. This causes what’s known as chronic inflammation, as cytokines keep rallying the troops in the form of inflammatory cells.

Inflammation and arthritis

One of the most common inflammatory diseases is arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, commonly known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, causes inflammation and pain as the cartilage between your bones in various joints wears away. Without cushion, friction occurs, causing an inflammatory response. And without intervention, the response can become chronic.

Two other types of arthritis are directly related to immune response, and can provoke an even more marked inflammatory reaction.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is actually a recognized autoimmune disorder, meaning the body attacks its own cells. It involves the capsules surrounding the joints, which become a target for the immune system and become routinely inflamed and painful.

Psoriatic arthritis

Another autoimmune disease that attacks the joints is psoriatic arthritis. In this type of arthritis, the inflammation is located around all of the connective tissue leading to and from the joint, including the tendons and ligaments. People with psoriatic arthritis may also suffer from painful inflammation of the skin known as psoriasis.

Other inflammatory diseases

There are many other diseases that are accompanied by chronic inflammation, including diseases of the gut (such as inflammatory bowel disease) or autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia. In most cases, there isn’t a cure, so managing inflammation and pain is the path forward to living with the chronic condition.

If you’re experiencing chronic inflammation and traditional remedies like anti-inflammatory medications aren’t helping, regenerative medicine might be the right approach. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with the office of Bonnie S. Friehling, MD today.

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