When you have inflammation, your body releases chemicals into your affected tissues to boost blood flow to an injury and cause redness and warmth.
When you think of arthritis, you’re probably thinking of inflammation. Inflammation is a process in which your body’s white blood cells and immune proteins help protect you from infection and things like bacteria and viruses.
In some diseases, your immune system triggers an inflammatory response when there isn’t anything to fight off. With these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, your body’s immune system damages its own tissues. Your body responds as if normal tissues need to be fought off.
Types of Arthritis Linked to Inflammation
Arthritis is a general term that describes conditions that affect your joints. Some types of arthritis are the result of this inflammation, including:
- rheumatoid arthritis;
- psoriatic arthritis;
- gouty arthritis;
- systemic lupus erythematosus.
The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis. Experts don’t think inflammation plays a major role in osteoarthritis. Other painful conditions of your joints and musculoskeletal system that aren’t tied to inflammation include fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain.
Symptoms of Joint Inflammation
The symptoms of inflammation include:
- joint swelling;
- joint pain;
- joint stiffness;
- loss of joint function.
Often, you’ll have only a few of these symptoms.
Inflammation may also have general flu-like symptoms including:
- fatigue/loss of energy;
- loss of appetite;
- stiff muscles.
Causes of Joint Inflammation
When you have inflammation, your body releases chemicals into your blood or affected tissues. These chemicals boost blood flow to an area of injury or infection and may cause redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause fluid to leak into your tissues, and that can bring on swelling. This process may trigger your nerves and cause pain.
Results of Joint Inflammation
More blood flow and the release of these chemicals attract white blood cells to the sites of inflammation. The higher number of cells and inflammatory chemicals in your joint can cause irritation, wearing down of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones), and swelling of your joint lining (synovium).
Diagnosing Joint Inflammation
Diagnosis of inflammatory joint diseases consists of all or some of these exams:
- medical history and physical exam, focusing on which joints are involved;
- evaluation of other symptoms besides joint symptoms;
- x-rays, blood tests, and other studies.
Can inflammation affect internal organs?
Inflammation can affect your organs as part of an autoimmune disorder. The symptoms depend on which organs are affected. For example:
- Inflammation of your heart (myocarditis) may cause chest pain or fluid retention.
- Inflammation of the small tubes that bring air to your lungs (bronchiolitis) may cause shortness of breath.
- Inflammation of your kidneys (nephritis) may cause high blood pressure or kidney failure.
- Inflammation of your eye (iritis or uveitis) may cause pain or vision problems.
- Inflammation of your muscles (polymyositis) may cause achiness or weakness.
- Inflammation of your blood vessels (vasculitis) may cause rash, headaches, or internal organ damage.
- Pain may not be the main symptom, because many organs don’t have nerves that sense pain.
Treatments for Joint Inflammation
Treatments for inflammatory joint diseases include medications, rest, exercise, and surgery to correct joint damage. Your treatment will depend on several things including the type of disease, your age, the type of medications you’re taking, your overall health, your medical history, and how severe your symptoms are.
Our clinic also offers a PRP-based treatment which supposes the use of platelet-rich plasma derived from your own blood. For more information please contact our expert and learn the details on the procedure.
The goals of treatment are to:
- treat the disease that’s causing your inflammation;
- relieve pain with medication and by changing your activities;
- maintain joint movement, muscle strength, and overall function with physical therapy and exercise;
- lessen stress on your joints by using braces, splints, or canes as needed.
Preventing Joint Inflammation
You can lower your risk of getting inflammation by making some changes in your daily life. These include:
- keep a healthy weight;
- exercise regularly;
- don’t smoke;
- eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids.