Inflammation is the body’s way of trying to protect itself. Inflammation occurs when the white blood cells work to protect the body against becoming infected with foreign organisms such as viruses and bacteria. However, in some cases, such as with arthritis, the immune system actually triggers an inflammatory response even though there are no foreign invaders to fight off. These are known as autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases are when the body begins to attack itself.
Disorders Associated with Inflammation
Some forms of arthritis are the result of inflammation. Arthritis is a broad term that describes inflammation within the joints. Some of the forms of arthritis that are associated with inflammation include:
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Gouty Arthritis (Gout)
There are some other painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system and joints that are not associated with inflammation such as: fibromyalgia, muscular low back or neck pain, and osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Inflammation
Some of the most common symptoms of inflammation include the following:
- Joint pain/stiffness
- Loss of function
Most of the time, only a few of the above symptoms are present. Additionally, some other general flu-like symptoms may be present with inflammation:
- Loss of appetite
Naturally Treating Inflammation
As with anything else, the best way to treat inflammation is to find out what is causing it. However, this is not usually considered when selecting a treatment for inflammation, but it could be the key to your cure.
Following are some natural things that you can do to reduce inflammation in your body:
As you probably already know, exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Exercise promotes overall health. Taking a short walk, doing a bit of yoga, or going for a swim can be quite effective for treating inflammation. You should keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous, you just need to be consistent with it. You should take the time to get some form of exercise every day. A simple walk around the block will do just fine. If you’re feeling like it, consider joining a gym and make a pact with yourself that you will go every day.
Fruits and Veggies
Basically, a healthy diet that includes fruits and veggies is excellent for discouraging inflammation in your body. Berries are especially beneficial at reducing inflammation- especially blueberries. They are full of antioxidants and other nutrients that help to reduce and prevent inflammation. Also, green leafy veggies are an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber, and iron. These vitamins and minerals help the body to rid itself of toxins and therefore reduce inflammation.
Though it may not be something that sounds very appetizing, anchovies, shellfish, and sardines are excellent choices. They have much lower levels of mercury and are not farm raised. These are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce inflammation. Another excellent fish is mackerel, it’s greasy, but full of omega-3 fatty acids.
Though you should be getting most of your vitamins and minerals through your diet, in some cases, it may be necessary to take a multivitamin. You want to make sure that it has plenty of necessary nutrients and as few of the unnecessary ones as possible. You want to avoid taking a supplement that contains a binding agent. These binding agents have zero nutritional value and actually get in the way of the vital nutrients being absorbed. Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E are all excellent for promoting the reduction of inflammation and swelling. However, when choosing a nutritional supplement, you want to make sure to check the ingredients if you have food allergies. Look for things like gluten, dairy, or seafood.
Other supplements such as sulfur, glucosamine, and chondroitin can provide lubrication for your joints.
Alternative Therapies for Inflammation
In addition to the above natural treatments for inflammation, there are some alternative therapies you can consider using. Some of those are:
Meditation to Treat Inflammation
Since inflammation can be caused from stress, it’s a good idea to try meditation. This is a great way to relax your mind and body and get your mind off of things. You should know that there is no â€magic formulaâ€ to follow. It will take you some time and effort to get the hang of it, so be patient with yourself.
Massage to Treat Inflammation
Massage therapy is an excellent alternative treatment that could be beneficial for treating inflammation. There are a few things that you should know about massage therapy:
- A massage therapist will use his/her hands and fingers, as well as possibly incorporating other blunt objects, to manipulate the muscles and soft tissues. The pressure used and the direction of movement will vary.
- The goal of massage is to get the muscles and soft tissues to relax, by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area, warming it, and relieving pain and inflammation.
- Massage therapy is excellent for promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
- Depending on the location of the affected area, you may be asked to sit in a massage chair or to lie on a massage table. The massage therapist may use oil or powder so that their hands can glide over your skin.
- There are specific precautions you will need to take before getting a massage.
- Since massage therapy is so popular, it is vital that you check out the credentials of your massage therapist. In some cases, a physical therapist may also provide massage therapy.
Thermotherapy to Treat Inflammation
Finally, both heat and cold can be used to treat pain and inflammation that is associated with arthritis. You can speak with your physician to determine which would suit your condition best.
Heat therapy works to increase blood flow, flexibility, and pain tolerance. Heat therapy can be provided with microwaves, moist heat, paraffin wax, or ultrasound. For some of these forms of therapy, a physical therapist will need to be present- such as ultrasound or microwave therapy. However, you can apply moist heat on your own. Some ways to apply moist heat include taking a hot bath or shower, or placing warm towels on the affected area.
Cold therapy is the best choice for reducing inflammation because it causes the pain to be numbed and constriction of the blood vessels. Cold therapy includes applying ice packs, soaking in cold water, ice massage, and OTC ointments and sprays that will cool the joints and skin.