Health Tip – What is Inflammation?

Last week I was playing a pick-up game of basketball. It had been my first game back since injuring my back a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the best game of my life. I was missing my shots and I seemed to run out of breath quickly.  In the last game, things started to click. The baskets were coming better. This was short lived as I was going up for a rebound and came down on the foot of another player.  I felt the pain immediately in my ankle. I was on the floor for several minutes.

While lying on the ground, another player tried to remove my shoe. I told him not to remove it or the inflammation would get worse.

This guy looked up at me and had no clue on what inflammation was.  That was when I got the idea to write a post on what exactly inflammation is.

What is Inflammation?

This is a complex reaction of the skin and surrounding tissues that occurs in response to injury, damage, disease, irritants, and other external sources.

Remember, an injury isn’t the only source that causes inflammation. But neither is infection.

Without inflammation the body would never heal.  This is the down and dirty of inflammation. As bad as it looks and as painful as it can get, healing wouldn’t happen.

The body, in a sense, walls of an area of damage or infection. As a result, a larger number of plasma and certain blood cells called leukocytes, head to the area affected. As more plasma, blood cells, and swelling occurs, inflammation occurs.

Inflammation is part of the immune system response.

Symptoms or Signs of Inflammation

1.)     Redness  –  (Rubor)
2.)     Heat     –     (Calor)
3.)     Swelling  –   (Tumor)
4.)     Pain      –      (Dolor)
5.)     Loss of function   –   (Functio laesa)


Redness and heat are primarily due to the increased blood flow to that area.  But redness and heat can also be from an infection, when applicable.

Swelling is from the increased plasma to the area.

Pain is from several causes.  One is the increased fluid to an area. Chemicals released during the inflammation process can also cause pain.  Pain let’s you know that something is going on. It prevents further damage to an area.

Loss of function is from many different causes.  This could be a secondary response to some of the other signs, in addition to further problems with inflammation.

Areas of body where inflammation occurs

Inflammation happens on a daily basis in each and every one of our bodies.  Acne, pulled muscle, lungs, allergies, and much more can happen.

When talking about Allergies – this is a sensitivity to a certain molecule such as food or hay fever. The response to the foreign molecule, causes several reactions, including nasal congestion, itchy eyes and especially anaphylaxis shock.

Arthritis –  this is when inflammation occurs in a joint. It could be from damage or a chemical response. Causes of arthritis like age and injury causes an increased fluid and reaction in the joint affected.  There are many overall types of arthritis. The most typical is just called arthritis.

Some Bowel Problems –  Inflammation can occur in the bowel and can be very painful. In some cases, the causes of the inflammation are unknown. But what is seen is the pain, swelling and  redness.  Often further evaluation is needed.

Lung issues – Asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and more are affected in one way or another by inflammation. The causes and severity are different in each of these cases. If the causes are different, treatment is also quite different.

And hundreds of more areas

Treatment of Inflammation

In many cases, treatment is helpful with inflammation. Often it is to help the causative problem with inflammation.  If it is an infection, treatment of the infection is needed.

Other great treatment options are:

1.)     Time
2.)     ICE
3.)     Anti-inflammatory medications
4.)     Elevation
5.)     Compression

Many of these treatment or management options are helpful but time is also an important option. If there is inflammation, then something is causing it. It takes time for inflammation to occur and it takes time to resolve.   This is often overlooked.

My ankle is now improving drastically. I put my foot in an ice bath and saw a huge improvement. But time, medication, and elevation all helped the body to repair itself.  In essence, that’s what I needed. Next week, I hope to get back to another good game of basketball.


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