Inflammation can seem like a scary word. But not all
inflammation in the body is bad. As Victor Laluz, MD, internal medicine primary care physician for Loma Linda University Health, tells Bustle, "It's the body's response to some form of irritant." Inflammation shows up in many different ways. One of the more common symptoms of inflammation is pain.
"Pain is thought to be a signal from our bodies that the injured area needs to be protected from excessive use or touch so that healing can occur," Dr. Laluz says. That's when the inflammatory response kicks in. For instance, a loss of function caused by swelling in the bones might be important for "good healing" to occur. Due to inflammation, the bone will be kept straight so it'll heal properly
Again, not all inflammation is bad.
Chronic inflammation can be lifelong and may require long-term anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive treatment in order to prevent damage. But healthy inflammation usually ends within a few weeks.
It's important to note that pain isn't always due to inflammation. So it's vital to talk to your doctor and get the necessary tests done so you can get the right treatment you need. But here are some common signs that your pain is caused by inflammation, according to experts.
Swelling is a key indicator of an ongoing inflammatory process, especially in your joints. This is one sign you'll easily notice since swelling can lead to stiffness. "If you can't bend you joint completely, there's a good chance that inflammation has set in," Dr. Thanu Jey, clinical director of the
Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic, tells Bustle.
If the pain isn't in your joints, you can tell there's swelling by looking for pitting. "If there's a pit when you press the area with your thumb and the skin doesn't go back to normal in five seconds, there's swelling," primary care physician,
Dr. Shubhra Jain, tells Bustle.
If you are experiencing pain, redness can indicate inflammation. "Look under natural sunlight and compare the inflamed area with the other side of your body," Dr. Jain says. There will be redness due to more blood flow.
Like redness, an increase in blood flow to the area will cause the area to get warm. According to Dr. Jain, using a cold compress can help to alleviate the pain and make you feel better.
Pain from inflammation is more of a constant pain. "It doesn't really change with position and movement will typically increase it," physical therapist,
Matt Huey, tells Bustle. "There's a chemical reaction going on, so to relieve it you have to use chemicals such as medication (steroids, etc) or ice."
You're Also Experiencing Night Sweats, And Fatigue
"Pain caused from inflammation, especially over a long period of time, is also associated with other constitutional features such as [...] night sweats, and fatigue,"
Fotios Koumpouras, MD, Yale Medicine rheumatologist and director of the Yale Lupus Program, tells Bustle. Anemia can also be developed in chronic inflammatory states. If you're experiencing pain along with any of these other symptoms, it may indicate chronic inflammation.
There's Stiffness When You Try Moving The Inflamed Area
Fibrosis is defined as the thickening, hardening, and/or scarring of various tissues. "When inflammation gets older, fibrosis takes place," Dr. Alice Holland, doctor of physical therapy and director of Stride Strong Physical Therapy, tells Bustle. Because of this, the inflamed body part can become stiff and painful at first movement.
You can't always know for sure that your pain is caused by inflammation just by looking at it. So if you're experiencing any of these signs, it's not a bad idea to talk to your doctor. That way, you can get the right treatment you need.