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I don't understand how inflammation hurts the body?

By November 11, 2008 - 10:26am
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I've been hearing a lot about inflammation when it comes to health and health news. Reports tell me what to eat to avoid inflammation;

scientists talk about it as being a key to arthritis and to auto-immune disorders.

I don't really understand what they mean. What exactly is inflammation when it's referred to like this? I understand inflammation when it involves a wound -- white cells rush to the wound and protect it from infection, which is why a wound can become red and a little swollen and warm.

But when it's not about a wound, what do I need to understand about it to help protect my health? I am 50 and have noticed some soreness in my joints and am wondering if it is the beginning of arthritis. Might I be dealing with inflammation? Are there things I can do to reduce it?

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Thank you for your information!

Here's what I am experiencing:

-- swollen joints (knuckles, ankles, etc) with some pain (but no redness or warmth like a fever)
-- morning stiffness here and there
-- some pain when I overexert myself (slightly different from typical muscle pain. I am very accustomed to the muscle pain that comes from a hard workout; this is more centered in the joints, as an ache or soreness.)

Are there things I can do to reduce the swelling and stiffness?

How do you know the difference between just being a little overweight (which I am) or the actual swelling and stiffness from arthritis or inflammation?

November 12, 2008 - 9:42am

Interesting question!

You're right regarding inflammation helping a wound or to fight off bacteria ("foreign substances").

When there is not a wound involved, the Cleveland Clinic describes inflammation this way:
"In some diseases, however, the body’s defense system (immune system) inappropriately triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal."

Arthritis is essentially "inflammation in joints", but according to the Cleveland Clinic, "not all types of arthritis are the result of misdirected inflammation."

Do you have any of these symptoms of arthritis:
* Redness
* Swollen joint that is warm to touch
* Joint pain
* Joint stiffness
* Loss of joint function


November 11, 2008 - 3:44pm
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