From long-term conditions like arthritis to short-term injuries, inflammation is linked to many issues. There are 5 classic signs that indicate you are suffering from inflammation. Sometimes these signs are known as cardinal, as they are used by doctors to come to a diagnosis. In this article, I take a look at each of these signs and symptoms in detail, plus find out why they occur and what you can do to help ease inflammation.
Louise Baillie S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 @ActiveLouise Ask Louise
16 February 2021
What are the five classic signs of inflammation?
Classic (cardinal) signs of inflammation include pain, redness on the skin, heat, swelling, and stiffness. Inflammation, in the short term, helps tackle infections and encourages the regeneration of muscle after an injury. However, if it persists long term, it can be linked with problems such as arthritis.
Signs of inflammation
Let's have a look at these signs and symptoms in a little more detail and find some tips for managing inflammation going forward.
When inflammation occurs, immune cells trigger release of hormones known as bradykinin and histamine which stimulate nerves, causing signals of pain to reach the brain. This, therefore, explains the mechanisms behind inflammation and pain - it is simply to protect the body as we are less likely to move the area when in pain!
2. Redness on the skin
When an area is inflamed, blood flow to the area increases so that immune cells can reach the injured tissue and kick-start the recovery process. The hormones bradykinin and histamine also cause blood vessels to widen in order to help immune cells travel to damaged tissues and initiate healing. This, in turn, leads to the skin becoming red or hot to touch.
As well as your skin becoming red when inflamed, the healing process can also cause the skin to become hot to touch.
When immune cells travel to an injured area and kick start the inflammatory process, this causes fluid to enter the area. This can lead to swelling in the tissues. Swelling may also be linked to the fact that blood vessels widen to help immune cells pass through tissue walls and reach the site of injury.
Stiffness may be linked to the fact that inflammation causes swelling as this simply makes it harder to move an area. It can also be linked to pain which, of course, is likely to reduce mobility.
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If you are suffering from signs of inflammation, here are my top tips to reduce the discomfort.
Exercise – You might think it best to rest up when experiencing inflammation but, in actual fact, research shows that exercise is quite beneficial when it comes to easing the problem. In particular, it has been found to be useful in countering the effects of chronic, long-term inflammation associated with aging. (1) Get started on creating a more active routine straight away by checking out our exercise videos!
Avoid inflammatory foods -Foods that can trigger inflammation may make your symptoms worse. A few things to avoid include processed foods (ready meals, sliced meat), caffeine, fizzy juice, refined sugars (cakes, biscuits etc.), and alcohol.