Inflammation is a process in which the body's white blood cells and immune proteins help protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
In some diseases, however, the body's defense system (immune system) triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. In these diseases, called auto immune disease the body's normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow foreign.
What Diseases Are Associated With Inflammation?
Some, but not all types of arthritis are the result of misdirected inflammation. Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation in joints. Some types of arthritis associated with inflammation include:
The most common form of arthritis called osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis) is a bit of a misnomer. It is not believed that inflammation plays a major role in osteoarthritis. Other painful conditions of the joints and musculoskeletal system that are not associated with inflammation include fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain and muscular neck pain
That Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?
The symptoms of inflammation include:
Often, only a few of these symptoms are present.
Inflammation may also be associated with general common cold like symptoms including:
When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body are released into the blood or affected tissues. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.
Increased blood flow and release of these chemicals attract white blood cells to the sites of inflammation. The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint can cause irritation, wearing down of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones), and swelling of the joint lining (synovium).
Diagnosis of inflammatory joint diseases consists of all or some of the following:
Yes. Inflammation can affect organs as part of an autoimmune disorder. The type of symptoms depends on which organs are affected. For example:
Pain may not be a main symptom since many organs do not have pain-sensitive nerves.
There are a number of treatment options for inflammatory joint diseases including medications rest, exercise and surgery to correct joint damage. The type of treatment prescribed will depend on several factors including the type of disease, the person's age, type of medications he or she is taking, overall health, medical history, and severity of symptoms.
The goals of treatment are to:
increase stress on the joints by using braces, splints, or canes as needed
There are many drugs available to decrease joint pain, swelling, and/or inflammation and hopefully prevent or minimize the progression of the inflammatory disease. These medications include:
*Some of these medications are traditionally used to treat other conditions such as cancer and as inflammatory bowel disease or to prevent organ rejection after transplants. Dosages used may be different and the side effect profile may also be different, but they are potent medications requiring close follow-up by your physician.
When drugs are prescribed, it is important to consult doctor regularly so he or she can check its effectiveness and detect the development of any side effects.