Understanding Inflammation: From Natural Response to Autoimmune Conditions

What is Inflammation

When our body experiences redness, swelling, and pain, it’s likely due to inflammation. Usually, inflammation is a natural response by our immune system to protect us from infections and foreign substances. It’s like an alarm system, letting us know that our white blood cells and chemicals are working to keep us safe. This kind of inflammation occurs with minor injuries such as cuts, bruises, or burns. In these cases, its a good response. The inflammation is localized, and lasts about 6 – 10 days.

However, there are times when our immune system triggers inflammation even when there’s nothing to fight off. This occurs in autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. This is not a good response in our body.

Recognizing Inflammation

If you experience inflammation in your joints, you may notice redness, swelling, and tenderness. The joint might feel warm to the touch, and you’ll likely have pain, stiffness, and a decrease in joint function. When there’s an increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint, it can cause irritation, cartilage breakdown, and swelling of the joint lining. Inflammation can also come with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, and muscle stiffness.

When To Be Concerned

Sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; becoming self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation. The inflammation experienced in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus is chronic and not limited to one area. It is thought to be an altered immune response.  Because rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, in addition to affecting the joints, it can also affect organs, including the heart, lungs and eyes.

Living with Inflammatory Arthritis

Living with inflammatory arthritis comes with many challenges. It can cause a range of physical challenges including  pain, fatigue, joint damage, and even organ damage. On an emotional level, it can lead to depression, anger, and anxiety.

Treating Inflammatory Joint Conditions

Thankfully, there are various treatment options available for inflammatory joint diseases. These can include medications, rest, exercise, and even surgery to repair joint damage. Treatment options may involve:

  • Avoiding activities that worsen pain
  • Using pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs for relief
  • Undergoing physical therapy and exercise to maintain joint movement and strength
  • Using braces, splints or canes to alleviate stress on the joints as needed.

splints and braces for arthritis

The specific treatment approach will depend on factors such as the type of disease, age, medications, overall health, medical history, and symptom severity.Understanding inflammation, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options is essential for managing inflammatory joint conditions. By taking the appropriate steps, individuals can strive for a better quality of life and alleviate the burden of these conditions.

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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

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