Chronic Inflammation

Osteopathic treatment is directed at improving fluid mechanics and venous and arterial flow to the area, decreasing nociceptive drive, and re-balancing abnormal compensatory patterns in the surrounding tissue. Integrative Medicine for Children, 2009

Inflammation is a part of the body’s natural healing process. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury (ankle sprain, joint strain, and muscle strain), infection (virus or bacteria) or irritation (allergen) or dysfunction of normal physiology (loss of normal structural mobility will effect physiology). It is the body’s way of signalling systems within the body to heal and repair damaged tissue, as well as defend itself against viruses and bacteria. Inflammation helps remove harmful irritants and pathogens so the healing process can begin. Inflammation allows damaged cells and tissues to be cleared from the site and brings healthy white blood cells, proteins, and other components to the site of injury to continue the healing process.

Acute inflammation, which is healthy, should only last for a few days. Anything longer than that is considered to be chronic inflammation and is a sign of the body not healing properly. Signs of chronic inflammation may include joint pain, fatigue, depression, stiffness, redness, swollen joints, irritable bowels, weight gain or high blood pressure. Some people don’t know they are suffering from chronic inflammation until they are diagnosed with a disease associated with it. Factors can that cause chronic inflammation are inappropriate diet/food allergens, poor bio-mechanics/poor posture, lack of exercise/inappropriate exercise, stress, environmental toxins, and infections (bacterial or viral). Some of these causes can be reversed by simple changes in lifestyle. Not getting enough sleep or putting yourself under a lot of stress can put your immune system at risk, leading to inflammation. Chronic inflammation can also be caused by the inability to eliminate the initial cause of inflammation or an autoimmune response where the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins that attack healthy cells.

The body has its own self-healing, self-regulating mechanisms. To stimulate that healing, osteopathic treatment focuses on moving your body toward an optimum state where it will manage and maintain itself. An osteopath aims to restore the normal function and mobility of the joints, muscles, fascia, thereby affecting the nervous, lymphatic, circulatory, digestive systems to help the body heal itself. Osteopaths understand that poor bio-mechanics and abnormal joint function can cause inflammation. When a joint is inflamed the fluid (oedema) generated in the inflammatory process may put pressure on a nerve in close proximity leading to dysfunctional communication from the brain to the intended tissue.

Therefore, osteopaths aim when treating patients is to restore proper joint function. Osteopaths do this by helping to restore normal joint mobility. Osteopathic treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation, improve fluid movement and drainage to an injured area, especially lymphatic and venous drainage, reduce soft tissue tightness/stiffness, improve function of the nervous system, improve joint mobility and improve movement strategies. By tracing back to the root cause, conditions can still be managed by maintaining the compensatory structures and functions of the body. A logical alternative target for reducing chronic inflammation might be to eliminate the underlying cause for the inflammation thereby reducing the need for long-term use of anti-inflammatory medication. Research has linked inflammation to a multitude of health problems. This is why it is important to recognize inflammation, and treat it before it becomes chronic. A balanced approach that includes osteopathy, proper nutrition, appropriate exercise and effective stress management can lead to an all-around healthier you.

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