Question: I always see ads talking about how bad inflammation is. What exactly is it and how can I prevent it?
Inflammation, in general, is the normal response of your body’s immune system, where white blood cells, along with other immune cells, work to protect you from infections and outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. This is a good thing.
A lot of people hear the word “inflammation” and think, “Oh no! That is a terrible thing!” But really, it is absolutely essential for survival. If we had zero inflammation in our bodies, minor injuries would become major, because there would be no defense mechanism to signal the immune system to heal the sprain, cut or abrasion.
It’s important to note that there are two types of inflammation:
- Acute inflammation – this is the one that most people are familiar with and is identified by redness, swelling and pain around tissue and joints that occurs in response to an injury. An example might be when a paper cut becomes red, swollen and hurts to touch.
- Chronic inflammation – although usually not as painful as acute inflammation, lasts much longer, sometimes for several months. For example, that person we all know that has had lower back pain for the last five years – they have a form of chronic inflammation.
This long-lasting inflammation can be caused by physical factors (viruses, bacteria, blood sugar imbalances, extreme heat or cold, toxins) or emotional factors (chronic daily stress). Over time, chronic inflammation can contribute to chronic disease by throwing off the body’s immune system and creating a lot more inflammation in the process.
Signs and Symptoms
Most people don’t find out that they have chronic inflammation until they’re diagnosed with a disease that’s associated with it. Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and autoimmune disease are all conditions that are frequently associated with chronic inflammation. However, you don’t have to wait until you’ve been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness to treat this condition. Other signs can include: allergies and asthma, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, pain in the joints and indigestion to name a few.
How is inflammation related to Chiropractic?
As Chiropractors, Dr. Miller and I want to be your partner in the fight against chronic inflammation. The nervous system controls everything in your body. When the spine and other joints are properly aligned, and your nerves function as they should, your body’s biomechanics return to normal, allowing for ideal organ function, hormone production and mobility. Studies have shown that adjustments help reduce the production of two inflammatory cytokines, which can reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Chronic inflammation also responds very well to lifestyle changes. We’re here to talk to you about how to begin an anti-inflammation diet that’s filled with nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and fish. Supplements like vitamin D and magnesium may also provide relief from chronic inflammation.
And, as an added bonus, chiropractic care can help patients get to the root cause of their chronic inflammation. Many times, individuals will turn to a prescription for treatment only to find that they’re simply addressing the symptoms and not getting down to the root cause. And, as a result, they never fully heal.
Exercise, proper nutrition and regular chiropractic care can go a long way toward treating a variety of health problems, including chronic inflammation. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of chronic inflammation, it’s time to make a change.
*Originally published in the Tri County Express, February 2022