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Understanding Inflammation: Types, Symptoms, and Natural Management

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

When you think of inflammation, you may relate it to a traumatic experience: A sprained ankle or wrist after falling off roller allergic reaction to a face wash...or your skin becoming hot and swollen after a sunburn.

Bandage on arm

Fun fact? Inflammation happens internally and externally since it is simply the body’s reaction to damage. It signals an inflammatory response, sending white blood cells, phagocytes (garbage men of the blood that take out the trash), nutrients and other cells to help heal the area. Inflammation is usually a temporary and helpful mechanism of the body that does its job then eventually goes away....or, at least, it is supposed to.

But, in many situations, inflammation sticks around causing more damage, continued pain, discomfort and swelling, which delays all the stages of healing.

Lets look at the facts about inflammation:

  • Symptoms of inflammation include:

    • External signs (things we can see) including redness, swollen joints, joint stiffness, joint pain, and warmth

    • Internal symptoms (things we can’t see) include fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, nausea and loss of appetite.

  • Types of inflammation

    • Acute inflammation caused by exposure to substances like mold, an injury, or an infection.

    • Chronic inflammation caused by hypersensitivity, autoimmune disorders, autoinflammatory diseases, and continuous low-level exposures to irritants.

Below are different comparisons for acute vs. chronic inflammation

Acute versus chronic inflammaion

Medication is always a potential option to manage any illness or medical concern but let's talk about some alternative methods to help CONTROL and manage your inflammation:

1. Nutrition - There are several foods that cause and increase inflammation in the body. Many foods that are easily accessible (fast foods or ready to eat dinner plates) are not good to control inflammation in the body because of the mass amounts of preservatives, MSGs, artificial colors, and flavors. As a rule of thumb to reduce inflammation, eat more natural foods to the Earth like fresh fruits, vegetables, and drinking water regularly. Some of the most common foods to AVOID include

  • Sugar

  • Soda & Sports Drinks

  • Trans and Saturated Fats

  • Gluten

  • Dairy

  • Fried Foods

  • Grain-Fed or Processed Meats

  • Alcohol in Large Amounts

  • Refined Carbohydrates

2. Physical therapy

  • Ice: Feels so good. Ice reduces heat that stems from inflammation, reduces blood flow, and narrows blood vessels. Monitor skin reaction to ice because everyone responds to ice differently. On average, keep ice on area of inflammation for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes.

  • Manual therapy: targeted muscle, joint or lymphatic mobilizations stimulates movement, reduces pain, increases blood flow, and reduces swelling and discomfort.

  • Kinesiotape: strategic taping improves blood and fluid circulation, as well as supports the lymphatic system, which is how the body removes excess fluid to reduce swelling and inflammation.

  • Ultrasound: increases blood flow to a specific area to reduce swelling.

  • Exercise: monitored exercise can help reduce inflammation by increasing blood flow to support flushing toxins out of the area of concern.

  • Stretching: supports flexibility within a joint or muscle to reduce stiffness and immobility, which can result in a reduction of pain or inflammation

3. Maximize lifestyle choices. We underestimate how important simple lifestyle changes are in impacting our health.

Girl doing yoga backbend in a white hallway

  • Sleep hygiene: our body needs at least 7-8 hours a night to function properly during the working day. Some may need more, but we do know that seven hours is bare-minimum.

  • Reducing stress: try a new relaxing activity like yoga or meditation to separate you from the stressors in life and change your perspective on negative events.

  • Smoking: We already know smoking is harmful and addictive. Start seeking out healthier outlets over cigarettes and vapes.

One step today can make a big impact on your tomorrow.

At IVY Integrative, you can work with one practitioner or build your own team of holistic practitioners! Reach your optimum health in-person or online. Check out our Get Started page to learn how to work with us!

Your Physical Therapist,

Dr. Mièka Bryan PT, DPT



This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts



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