What is inflammation and what should we do about it?
This term is used every day in the healthcare field when discussing acute injuries and chronic conditions, and most of us have probably heard someone on or around the Pickleball court mentioning the word “inflammation” at some point in time. However, the term inflammation is very poorly understood by the general public, and even by some healthcare professionals. What is inflammation? What does it mean? Is it a positive or a negative thing? What should we do about it in the management of acute and chronic conditions?
Inflammation is defined as a naturally occurring process in our bodies in response to an insult to our tissues, injury, or chronic condition leading to symptoms such as swelling, redness, warmth to the touch, and is usually associated with pain from the injury site. It is widely believed that inflammation is a negative thing, and should be controlled as soon as possible following injury with modalities such as ice, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), or even more invasive measures such as oral steroids or injections (SAIDs). However, recent evidence suggests that this may not always be the best approach to maximizing one’s recovery.
It turns out that inflammation is an umbrella term which encompasses various reactions in our body at four different levels:
- Clinical: heat, swelling, redness, pain
- Physiological: vasodilation, muscle spasms, coagulation, angiogenesis, etc…
- Cellular: neutrophils, platelets, macrophages, fibroblasts, mast cells, lymphocytes, etc.
- Molecular: molecules and enzymes, modulation of cellular response.
Each level of inflammation plays an intricate part in tissue healing and regeneration. Assuming that inflammation is a negative process that needs to be controlled following an injury to speed up recovery is a gross oversimplification and a common misunderstanding. The use of NSAIDS or ice aimed at “reducing inflammation” may slow or inhibit our bodies’ ability to heal by suppressing a normal cascade of events our bodies were programmed to go through, especially in acute injuries.
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Noe Sariban is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Pickleball Teaching Professional through the IPTPA, and a Team EngagePickleball Sponsored Athlete. Please visit www.thepickleballdoctor.com for more information on injury prevention and rehabilitation tips. Noe started his website to provide Pickleball players around the world with a reliable and free source of information. Please like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/pickleballdoctor for updates and new information