12 5 classic signs of inflammation

5 classic signs of inflammation

Find out more about the signs of inflammation in the body

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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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.

1. Pain

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.

3. Heat

As well as your skin becoming red when inflamed, the healing process can also cause the skin to become hot to touch.

4. Swelling

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.

5. Stiffness

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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How to tackle inflammation

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.

Choose anti-inflammatory options – Foods that can help fight inflammation include blueberries, chia seeds, ginger, spinach, turmeric, walnuts and more.

Stay hydrated - Drink plenty of plain water as this can be good for inflammation by helping to flush out toxins from the body.

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Did you know?

Foods such as red meat and dairy products and drinks such as caffeine and alcohol can all trigger inflammation which can increase muscle and joint pain.

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