Joint pain is bad enough, but when inflammation sets in with its redness, swelling and heat, the ordeal rises to a new level.
Blame it on your immune system, which triggers inflammation in response to a physical injury or an infection. However, if you know some of the preventable causes of chronic inflammation in the joints, you may be able to avoid it. Here are five common contributors of inflammation in the joints:
- Excess weight – Not only does being overweight put extra stress on your joints in your lower back, hips, and knees, but it can also cause an inflammatory response within your body’s fat cells. As you age, some of those cells also age and when that happens, it promotes inflammation. According to a 2013 study published in Cell Metabolism, obesity provokes distress signals from fat cells, signaling the immune system to fight off a non-existent threat with an inflammatory response.
- Stress – The stress hormone, cortisol, plays a role in regulating your inflammatory response, but chronic stress can weaken the hormone’s ability to do so, leaving inflammation unchecked. Chronic stress can also be found to increase the production of certain inflammatory white blood cells, increasing risk of inflammation-related diseases.
- Smoking and air pollution – We all know smoking irritates your lungs, which leads to a certain amount of inflammation that can exacerbate existing lung disorders such as COPD or allergies. It is believed that chronic injury and inflammation to the lungs as a consequence of smoking may be why cells start to mutate and develop lung cancer. There is evidence that smoking increases certain markers of inflammation, while quitting the habit causes these markers to drop significantly. However, even non-smokers are at risk for inflammation – not just from second-hand smoke, but from toxic elements in the polluted air we breathe. There’s not much you can do about that if you live in an urban area except to avoid traffic, perform your outdoor activities in the morning hours, and ensure your air filters are kept clean.
- Inflammatory foods – Your dietary choices are one of the major risk factors for inflammation – if not the top factor. Foods that trigger inflammation include sugar, artificial sweeteners, glutinous grains, seed oils (e.g., canola, corn, sunflower, and soybean), red meat and certain dairy products. Foods that combat inflammation include olive oil, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, nuts (e.g., almonds and walnuts), fruits (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges), and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
- Excess alcohol consumption – Whereas drinking wine or beer in moderation offers certain health benefits, heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages is potentially detrimental. That’s because as alcohol breaks down in your body, it produces toxic by-products that trigger inflammation affecting not only your joints, but also your liver, leading to hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Sometimes diet or exercise is not enough to overcome debilitating, chronic joint pain. Tarpon Orthopedics specializes in a variety of non-invasive treatments for both chronic and acute back and joint pain and can help you toward becoming pain-free. From back braces and medication to massage and physical therapy, there is a treatment that can work for your back and joint pain. For more information, and to schedule a consultation, call 972-596-1059