What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is an immune system function. It is a necessary part of the body’s response to injury and infection. Initially, inflammation is beneficial. When inflammation stays around too long or starts to attack your body is when it can contribute to health problems.
Acute inflammation is a great thing. It is your body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury, defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue. Acute inflammation is your body’s self defense system that creates the 5 cardinal signs—redness, heat, swelling, pain and/or loss of function. Even the muscle soreness that you experience after a tough workout is an example of acute inflammation. Without inflammation, your body wouldn’t recover from injury, wounds would fester and infections could become deadly.
Chronic or Systemic Inflammation
When inflammation becomes chronic is when bad things can happen to your health. Chronic, or systemic inflammation, can occur when acute inflammation wasn’t able to do its job and eliminate the threat or when the body sends an inflammatory response to a perceived internal threat that does not require an inflammatory response—an autoimmune attack. Chronic inflammation can also be created by a low level persistent threat such as stress.
Chronic inflammation can be localized, as well as systemic. Some examples of localized inflammation are arthritis in a specific joint, cirrhosis of the liver and inflammatory bowel disease. Chronic inflammation contributes to major causes of disease such as: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and kidney disease. It can also be seen in autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis. Chronic inflammation also contributes to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia, whole body joint pain and achiness, brain fog, and unexplained malaise.
Today’s lifestyle habits often lead to chronic inflammation. Stress, habitual or environmental factors, such as excess weight, poor diet, lack of exercise, not enough sleep and rest, smoking, pollution, poor oral health and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to a chronic inflammatory state. If your body is structurally out of alignment, your body might be stuck in a constant state of “fight or flight” and not be able to stop creating chronic inflammation, even if you eat well, exercise, etc.
Another, very serious issue caused by chronic inflammation is oxidative stress. According to Carolyn Gregoire, Senior Editor of Health and Science for the Huffington Post, new findings provide further evidence that chronic inflammation may be one of the most important factors in determining how quickly or slowly we age because of the creation of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress contributes to the pathophysiological conditions in the body mentioned above.
As a chiropractor, the biggest hurdle that I face with helping my patients to restore their health is chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Chronic use of the most common anti-inflammatory drugs (Neurontin, Celebrex)or over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) can have devastating side effects on the body.The upper cervical adjustment goes a long way in reducing inflammation due to its normalizing and optimizing effects on the nervous system, immune system and endocrine system. When necessary,I advise on clean eating, anti inflammatory diets, supplements, exercise regimens, and meditation. But, sometimes, the body just can’t get back ahead of the inflammation because of years of suffering.
To learn more how our services of cryotherapy, infrared sauna and compression therapy can help you call Dr. Gray at 610-341-9300.