What Are the Five Stages of Inflammation?

February 6, 2022

When people hear the word “inflammation,” they usually have a negative reaction. You may envision unpleasant physical symptoms like swelling or redness of the skin. However, inflammation isn’t without a purpose. It’s the body’s defense mechanism against tissue damage and infection.

Although inflammation is usually a natural sign of the body’s immune system acting in self-preservation, problems can occur. Prolonged inflammation can be harmful and could be a symptom of underlying autoimmune diseases, like fibrosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to perceived harm. It’s also one of the body’s most potent healing mechanism to manage various infections, injuries and stress. Inflammation can be categorized as either acute or chronic. A sore throat from a cold, a mosquito bite and lower back pain from an injury are all relatively mild examples of acute inflammation. These conditions are usually short-lived and tend to resolve on their own.

Conversely, chronic inflammation is persistent inflammation the body can’t resolve on its own. It’s detrimental to your health and is linked to serious and even life-threatening diseases like chronic sciatica, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disfunction, depression, leaky gut and cancer.

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

Many people are unaware of the many factors that trigger their chronic inflammation. Some of the most common causes of chronic inflammation are:

  •         Poor Nutrition — A diet rich in processed foods and sugar is the perfect recipe for chronic inflammation. Conversely, eating a clean and antioxidant-rich diet consisting of fresh vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can keep chronic inflammation at bay.
  •         Pesticides – The pesticides used to grow your fruits and vegetables are powerful toxins linked to persistent inflammation. Try to either choose organic options or thoroughly wash your produce with a water and vinegar solution.
  •         Stress – Chronic stress can lead to the overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can result in chronic inflammation. By making stress management a daily priority, you may be able to better manage your cortisol levels.
  •         Sleep – Not getting enough sleep or experiencing regular sleep disturbances can contribute to systemic inflammation. Try to get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.


The Five-Stages of Inflammation

Acute inflammation is a five-stage process. Consider a scenario in which someone accidently spills hot coffee on themselves and suffer burns, which are now painfully inflamed. Generally, this is how they can expect the inflammation process to unravel:

  1.       Burn: The person experiences a great deal of pain accompanied by the affected skin being red, swollen and potentially blistered.
  2.       Vasoconstriction: The person’s blood vessels narrow to protect the body from blood and fluid loss. Vasoconstriction can also temporarily raise a person’s blood pressure to keep blood flowing to essential organs.
  3.       Vasodilation: After the initial shock and constriction of blood vessels, the body’s inflammatory response is in full swing. As a result, the blood vessels widen to increase blood flow to the damaged tissue to begin the healing process.
  4.       Pain and swelling: The increased blood flow to the damaged tissue results in pain and swelling, which is the bodies way of discouraging touching and further injury of the burned skin.
  5.       Healing: The wounds start to heal, causing dead skin to atrophy and new collagen-rich skin to surface.

How to Treat Inflammation

Picking the correct treatment for your inflammation requires in-depth understanding of the underlying cause. Making changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising or getting plenty of sleep may help reduce chronic inflammation.

Other times, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids to alleviate the pain and other symptoms that accompany your inflammation. However, these medications are not meant to be a long-term treatment as they can lead to many unwanted side effects, like stomach ulcers, swelling, mood swings and more.

A more comprehensive approach to treating inflammation is through regenerative medicine, such as PRP injections or bone marrow stem cell therapy. These regenerative therapies may provide targeted enhancement of your body’s healing abilities and eventually reduce chronic or acute inflammation.

Find the Right Pain Treatment for You at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics in Georgia

We offer a variety of pain management treatments, such as steroid injections and regenerative therapies, to our patients in Marietta and Carlton. Whether you’ve suffered an injury or have chronic pain that just won’t go away, our customized therapies can lessen your symptoms and lead to healing and recovery.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 770-421-1420 or visit us online.