What is Inflammation?

The inflammatory phase is an accumulation of fluid and pain that is common during different injuries and conditions. All bodily injuries including small cuts, bruises, blisters, strains, sprains, fractures, and many other injuries undergo an inflammatory process. The inflammatory phase is present during the acute phase 1-6 days after the injury has occurred.

Inflammation is characterized by 5 signs and symptoms. This includes swelling from the blockage of lymphatic drainage, heat from an increase of vascularity, redness from an increase of vascularity, pain from physical pressure or chemical irritation, and loss of function from pain and swelling.

Inflammation can continue if proper care is not given or if the injured area is further abused. It is important to understand when inflammation is present so the appropriate steps can be taken. These steps can include initial care, rehabilitation and reconditioning, prevention of further injury, and general joint care.

It is important to provide initial care to the injured site as soon as an injury and inflammation is detected. When in doubt, it is safe to ice rather than heat. When icing, our vascular system constricts or gets smaller in size to help eliminate additional fluid to the injury site. In addition to icing, it is important to elevate, compress, and rest the area involved. These are all basic steps to help decrease as much inflammation as possible within the first 24-48 hours post injury.

Helpful Tips with Inflammation

Another helpful tip for acute inflammation is to utilize natural anti-inflammatories rather than drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin, and more. Bromelain, derived from the stem of a pineapple, is a concentration of enzymes that have anti-inflammatory effects. Bromelain supplementation results in decreased swelling and pain and is particularly effective in virtually all inflammatory conditions, regardless of their cause. It is thought that bromelain acts on the body in a way similar to aspirin.

Bromelain however does not have the side effects that aspirin does such as accelerating the process of joint degeneration. The recommended dosage for Bromelain is 400mg three times a day on an empty stomach. Ginger and Curcumin (from turmeric) have properties similar to bromelain, and when combined with bromelain have a good anti-inflammatory process. Essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids known as Omega 3 and Omega 6 have a low level of saturation and feed biomechanical reactions which inhibit damaging inflammation. These fatty acids are called “essential” because our body needs them to function but cannot make them, they must be ingested. To experience the full benefit of adding essential fatty acids to the diet it is necessary that all saturated (animal fats), hydrogenated (margarine etc.), and vegetable fatty acids be eliminated or reduced.  It is important to read all the labels on cracker boxes, potato chips, frozen dinners and everything else you buy.

The two highest sources of Omega 3 are cold water fish and flaxseed (linseed) oil. Other food sources that are high in essential fatty acids are pumpkin seed, soybean, walnut, and canola oil. Cold water fish that are especially high in Omega 3 are Salmon, Sardines, and mackerel. For supplementing with Omega 3 use a pure, cold pressed organically grown flax oil. Barlean’s is what we recommend and is almost twice as high in Omega 3 than other flax oils. The recommended dosage for flaxseed oil is 500 mg a day.

Stopping Inflammation

Stopping inflammation regardless of the cause is an important aspect to maintaining good health. It is important to know when and how to detect inflammation to prevent further damage to the surrounding joints and soft tissue. For any further questions in regards to inflammation and natural anti-inflammatories feel free to contact one of our doctors at NorCal Spine Sport.