Inflammation is disturbing, uncomfortable, and painful. When you see a player’s ankle swell up on the soccer field, the natural response is to think, “This can’t be good.” So, how can the inflammation process be good?
We certainly don’t like to watch our joints swell up and feel the heat, stiffness, and pain that accompanies inflammation. As a Utah injury clinic, we’ve seen a lot of injuries go through the inflammation process. No one should be left in the dark as to why this happens.
Our world-class physicians, nurse practitioners, and certified health coaches at the Albano Clinic want to help equip you with knowledge about how your body works. Just a little bit of health knowledge can help you stay calm and take the appropriate action when faced with an injury or potential health problem. We want you to know what’s wrong and be able to relieve the pain.
So, let’s answer the big question: is inflammation and the inflammation process always a bad thing?
Surprisingly, the answer is no! There are many cases in which inflammation can be a positive or helpful sign. Let’s break down 3 examples of positive inflammation and teach you how to distinguish the bad from the good and respond to each case.
1. Inflammation can be proof that your body is healing itself naturally.
As strange as it may sound, inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to an injury or infection. The swelling caused by additional blood flow to a sprained ankle carries with it an army of white blood cells needed to fight infection and usher in natural healing over time. The same response happens in many other parts of the body when a virus or infection is introduced. Your body is naturally smart enough to send the necessary components and extra blood to help fight it.
Next time you see someone’s extremity swelling up after a sports-related injury, you can at least rest assured that the inflammation process has begun and is running interference while you investigate the next steps.
2. Inflammation alerts you to bigger problems underneath the surface that need to be addressed by a professional.
The problem arises when inflammation persists. While positive in the short term, a prolonged inflammation process alerts us to more serious issues that may be going on below the surface.
For instance, while a sprained ankle on the soccer field will resolve itself with ice, elevation, and rest, the inflammation and pain will persist if the tibia (bone at the ankle) is fractured. The body does its best to send in the healing cells, but the prolonged inflammation becomes a sign that more intervention and even more time is needed to diagnose and heal the broken bone.
A more sinister example of inflammation as an alert system shows up in autoimmune diseases when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body. A false signal is sent, dispatching an army of fighter cells to attack intruders, but results in an attack on healthy areas of the body like the gut (inflammatory bowel disease) or the joints (rheumatoid arthritis). In this case, the inflammation process is even more prolonged and can cause significant health issues over time. This is a big sign that can help a great physician properly diagnose and effectively treat autoimmune diseases.
3. Inflammation can be used in certain treatments to accelerate healing in your body.
Believe it or not, inflammation is a necessary part of some incredible medical procedures at the Albano Clinic. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and cellular therapy for injuries are two examples of treatments that work alongside the inflammation process to accelerate healing to an injury.
These procedures take a customized amount of the “good stuff” (white blood cells, platelets, plasma, and other cells) your body naturally produces during inflammation and carefully inject it into the damaged area. This concentrates the body’s healing elements at the injured area four to five times the usual amount, accelerating healing, relieving pain, and repairing the damage.
In fact, we direct patients to steer clear of NSAIDs and other over-the-counter pain relievers prior to their procedure and during the recovery process. These medications actually halt the body’s natural inflammatory response and can stop the natural healing process we’re trying to accelerate.
We’ve treated a range of injuries from rotator cuff tears to osteoarthritis. These procedures are noninvasive, have a short recovery time, and leave room for future treatments, should you ever need them. They don’t burn further treatment bridges whereas traditional surgery often limits other treatment options.
Next time injury and inflammation come your way, you could panic or you can rest assured that you are equipped to respond appropriately and know who to turn to for the answers you need.
Whether you suffer from chronic inflammation or have an injury that needs tending to, we want to help you read your body’s signals and guide you back to health. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Albano and his Utah injury clinic and get back to the life you love!