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What is inflammatory pain?

Steve Picha

Before we go into what inflammatory pain is, we need to understand what inflammation is and its purpose. Inflammation is a natural process that takes place in our bodies typically after an injury or infection. This response is a part of the immune system and works by gathering immune cells to help clear out dead cells and tissue as well as increases the local blood flow to cleanse the area from waste build up. It is the way our body ensures we heal properly and protects us from further harm as it keeps the damage from spreading. Inflammation is normally associated with discomfort and many times distress, even agony. While seemingly inconvenient, this is how inflammation protects us. If we get a cut for example, the tissue surrounding the injury becomes inflamed and typically hurts. This pain makes us more prone to leave that area alone so it will heal faster. This natural inflammatory response may also cause problems in our daily life. The symptoms of inflammation can be strong enough to distract or even interfere with ordinary tasks. There are also disorders where the healthy inflammatory response goes haywire. For instance, the inflammation may not go away even after the initial damage has healed. The side effects of inflammation may also increase in strength to such a degree that the symptoms are actually worse than the injury was to begin with.

Symptoms of inflammation

Inflammation can be either acute or chronic in nature. Depending on which, the associated symptoms are slightly different. Acute inflammation starts quickly, can quickly become severe and can also go away quickly. For example, after spraining an ankle or getting hit in the arm or leg, it can initially hurt a lot, but then the pain quickly subsides. If we attempt to use that arm or leg too soon, the pain quickly lets us know it isn’t ready to perform it’s duty. The response may last a couple of days or maybe even a few weeks. Symptoms of acute inflammation are most noticeable when it occurs close to the skin’s surface. Increased blood flow in the injured area generally results in redness, heat and the accumulation of fluids, causing swelling.

Chronic inflammation typically starts slower than acute inflammation, and has less intense symptoms to begin with. However, these symptoms typically last for longer periods of time (months or even years), and can become worse as time goes by. The associated symptoms of chronic inflammation are more often fatigue, fever, rashes or sores. As discomforting as these symptoms may be, the main complication people with inflammation experience are that of associated pain, a symptom that deserves to be addressed in its own right.

Inflammatory pain

Pain from inflammation comes in many forms and is the main symptom of an inflammatory response. The inflamed area is typically sore to the touch and sometimes is extra sensitive. This pain might be throbbing or pulsating, stabbing or sharp, or constant and steady. As the body recruits the immune system to start the healing process, the swelling and increased blood flow described earlier can put pressure on nerves. The brain interprets this pressing of these nerves as pain. As the swelling goes down and the pressure is released from the nerve, the pain is supposed to go away. Unfortunately, in some cases the swelling remains, or scar tissue is formed continuing to apply pressure to the nerve, even after the injury has healed. Another cause of inflammatory pain is through the use of signaling molecules in the body. These molecules are released in high amounts during inflammation and make nerve cells more sensitive. This increases the chances for these molecules to become activated and send further signals to the brain that the area is in pain. As with pain induced by swelling, these signaling molecules are supposed to decrease in numbers as the injury heals. Occasionally though, the injury does not heal properly or if there is another underlying disorder, keeping the molecular levels high and the pain continues.

 

Causes and disorders related to inflammatory pain

The causes of inflammation and inflammatory pain are as many as they are diverse. Some internal inflammation can be due to an infection in a particular region. Internal examples of this are bronchitis, appendicitis, tonsillitis, and meningitis. Internal inflammation is typically more severe and requires aggressive treatment. External inflammation is most often due to injuries such as cuts or bruising. These types of inflammation are quite common but do not ordinarily come with prolonged pain issues. Unfortunately, inflammatory diseases or disorders related to an improper inflammatory response exist and will be described further as they often result in  “quality of life” issues in many people.

  • Arthritis is a collective name for many disorders that involve the joints. Arthritic pain can be managed in some cases but there is typically no real “cure”. Besides the pain, stiffness and reduced range of motion in the affected joints is common. While arthritis becomes more common with increased age, it can affect anyone at any age.
  • Repetitive or intense movement that causes damage to the tendons that connect muscles to bones most often causes tendinitis. If the afflicted part is left to heal, inflammatory pain generally goes away, but in some cases the tendons are so damaged that the tendinitis basically becomes chronic. Tendinitis is common with people in certain professions where their jobs includes repetitive movements. Athletes also often experience tendinitis do to over exertion and constant, repetitive movement.
  • Bursitis is another cause of lingering joint pain. In this condition, fluid filled sacks called bursa become inflamed. As with tendinitis, it is often due to overuse or injury. The bursa is responsible for lubricating and providing smooth motion of the joint. During inflammation any movement that involves the bursa can feel painful. There is evidence implicating a connection between some forms of arthritis and bursitis, where having arthritis increases the risk of also developing bursitis.
  • Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes widespread muscle pain, fatigue and a number of other symptoms. The causes and any potential cure for this disease are largely unknown, although there are current studies being conducted. Some research implicates an inflammatory response as part of the pathology and is what potentially gives rise to the painful symptoms. As such, many interventions and treatments of fibromyalgia are quite similar to those of more traditional inflammatory diseases. Women are most susceptible to fibromyalgia. Women, exposed to certain traumas or experiencing certain lifestyle choices seem to increase the risks of developing fibromyalgia although it is not clear why.

How to manage inflammatory pain?

As inflammation is a natural response and under ordinary conditions is not a problem, no cure has been found for inflammatory pain at this point. However, a considerable number of people do have issues with the symptoms, especially when it involves pain. No matter if your inflammation is acute or chronic in nature, having ways of treating and managing the pain can greatly improve your comfort level even if the underlying cause may not be cured.

  • An anti-inflammatory diet may help you reduce the risk of getting inflammation or at least minimizing the severity. Foods such as olive oil, kale and fatty fish are known to reduce the symptoms whereas heavily processed and fried food can aggravate the situation. Changing your diet is very easy to do in principle, but can be difficult over longer periods of time.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs can be found over the counter and in many pharmacies. These compounds lower the inflammatory response and therefore also the painful symptoms. Some of these are quite effective, but as with most drugs they can come with side effects. Many of the anti-inflammatory drugs are not recommended for prolonged use. Therefore, they may not be recommended for treatment of pain from chronic inflammation.
  • Changing your activities and how you perform them may help with some inflammatory pain. Especially those that include repetitive motions that may result in tendonitis or bursitis. By lowering the intensity, taking proper breaks and making sure your posture is correct may help reduce the damage that causes the inflammation to begin with. As mentioned earlier, ordinary inflammatory pain is a mechanism meant to protect you. If you participate in activities that may cause inflammation, the pain can be a signal for you stop for a while.
  • Natural treatments for inflammation have been around for thousands of years. These are popular today with people that want pharmaceutical drugs to be a last resort. Several herbs are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and decrease the pain by lowering the swelling or providing either a hot or cool sensation that distracts from the pain. Herbal supplements can be used as anti-inflammatory treatment either as pills to be absorbed internally or to be applied topically as a cream or oil. Clear Koala offers an essential oil spray that can be applied to inflamed and painful areas. The spray contains 5 highly refined natural ingredients.
  1. Eucalyptus oil
  2. Grape seed oil
  3. Jojoba
  4. Aloe Vera
  5. Vitamin E oil

Each of these ingredients blended to formula specifications have the ability to reduce the inflammatory response and related pain. These herbal ingredients are less prone to cause side effects even after long-term use. They can be a good choice to treat pain associated with both chronic and acute inflammation. For more detailed information, visit the ingredients page at www.clearkoala.com.


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