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  • Inflammation and Pain: Good or Bad?

  • Let’s talk about inflammation and pain: are they Good or Bad? Many people think that inflammation and pain are bad things. Well, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. First, let’s look at inflammation. 

    inflammation and painAcute Inflammation – Good

    The acute inflammatory process is what helps heal the tissue. Hypothetically, if it were possible to remove all the inflammatory chemicals after an injury, the damaged tissue would NOT heal. The key is to control inflammation instead of stopping it.

    Ice or Heat?

    If there are obvious signs of inflammation (pain, heat, redness, swelling, or loss of function), then ice works best. Icing causes the blood vessels to constrict, thus slowing down the flow of inflammatory chemicals into the injured soft tissue. If there are minimal or no signs of inflammation, then heat works best. Think about what works best after a hard day’s work. A nice hot bath is effective since your muscles are tight. The heat would keep the blood vessels open and encourage the fluids to flow on through! NOTE: If ever in doubt whether to use ice or heat, ALWAYS choose ice.

    inflammation and painChronic Inflammation – Bad

    The problem occurs when the inflammation becomes constant (or chronic). Chronic inflammation may occur in soft tissue from old nagging injuries that never healed properly, from serious disease processes, or an inflammatory diet. When chronic inflammation occurs, the body’s natural response that was once your ally starts to attack your body, destroying tissues, changing your natural chemistry, and weakening your immune system. Chronic inflammation in the joints occurs when the joint loses its normal alignment and motion, leading to altered sub-par function. When a joint loses it’s healthy motion waste products build inside it, soft tissues around the joint become overstretched or shortened around, causing more chronic inflammation, resulting in a vicious cycle. Chronic inflammation is followed by joint degeneration, bone spurs, arthritis, and more pain.

    Pain – Neither Good Nor Bad

    Now, let’s look at pain. Pain is neither good nor bad; rather, pain is an indicator that something is happening. The severity of pain does not always correlate with the severity of the injury. Here are some examples: calf cramps, paper cuts, hitting your shin on the coffee table; these all hurt like crazy but are no big deal. Certainly, you are not headed to the ER.

    Try this. Pinch the skin on your forearm. Go ahead. That really hurts, but the lesson is that a high degree of pain is not always a big problem. Now try this. Bend your finger back until it’s painful. (I know crazy, silly stuff). A biopsy of the tissue won’t reveal a tumor, infection, or any lesion. But releasing the finger and letting it return to its “position of comfort” will allow the pain to subside. We need to think about low back and neck pain in a similar way – functionally. 97% of back pain seen by primary care physicians is mechanical in origin – there’s something wrong with the muscles, ligaments, or connective tissues. On the flip side, many deadly diseases, cancer, and diabetes are life-threatening but can cause virtually no pain in the early or even late stages.

    Chiropractic Adjustments!

    Some people are fearful of chiropractic adjustments because they think it may hurt or it looks like it hurts. The reality is that for most patients, it is a painless event. More importantly, it can give you great relief! It is possible that you may be sore for a few days after the initial adjustment or two, but that is just old trapped inflammatory chemicals releasing and new chemicals flowing in. For more information on chiropractic and inflammation go to Chiro-Health Inc.’s YouTube channel or visit http://www.chirohealthsf.com/services/ to read about the services we offer. For questions or phone consultations, you can call Chiro-Health Inc. in San Francisco at (415) 546-1461 or request an appointment by visiting http://www.chirohealthsf.com/request-an-appointment/.

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