Inflammation: Destroyer or Healer?

Inflammation: Destroyer or Healer? 645d51b37c89b.png

Inflammation: Destroyer or Healer?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “inflammation”?

A sore throat, lower back pain, joint pain, knee pain?

If you think of any of these, and countless others, you are right.
All of them are influenced by inflammation.

Though inflammation is a normal part of the human body’s defense system and can be beneficial when there is injury or infection, it can be damaging when it occurs in healthy tissue.

Inflammation can be especially harmful if it becomes chronic and lasts for too long.

In fact, chronic inflammation may persist for months or even years. And, in the case of inflammation in the knees by way of osteoarthritis, this inflammation can have a negative impact on not only your overall health but your quality of life as well.

For many years, knee osteoarthritis has been viewed as primarily a degenerative disease, one that is more often than not chalked up to the “wear and tear,” of aging and time.

However, over the past few decades, numerous studies have indicated that inflammation may play a more important role in the progression and severity of knee osteoarthritis.

According to a recent article called “Inflammatory Activity in Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis,” published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, inflammation can be triggered by factors like biomechanical stress.

Biomechanical stress is considered to be the internal and external forces that exert stress on the human body, which in this case, is the knees.

Examples of this type of stress on the knees include standing in one place for extended periods of time, reduced circulation and muscle fatigue, exposure to cold temperatures, contact stress or pressure, physical exertion, repetition, heavy lifting, and weight-related joint stress.

In the article, the authors stated that based on the findings of numerous research studies, biochemical stress has been proven to stimulate the release of early-stage inflammatory cytokines which in turn induces the activation of signaling pathways.

So what does that all mean?

It means, that as a result of biomechanical stress, more inflammatory molecules are generated. And, as a result, the anatomical and physiological functions of the joint are altered, and the incidence of knee osteoarthritis is greatly increased.

Though inflammation is one of the main contributing factors in the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis, it also must be said that while it can lead to tissue damage, it is also central to the repair process.

Current research is now seeking to understand the drivers and the regulation of knee inflammation.

The body’s natural wound-healing response manifests itself in the osteoarthritic joint, which has led to an increasing interest in how the immune response may influence disease progression.

Researchers are interested in determining if the body attempts to deploy the wound-healing cascade during osteoarthritis and could the disease be driven by a partial or even stalled repair process.

The bottom line is that inflammation most certainly plays a role when it comes to knee osteoarthritis, however exactly what that role is, remains to be studied further.

Research studies are being conducted at this time, to try and understand the cells and signals in both wound healing inflammation and the immune processes involved, in order to better understand the progression of osteoarthritis in the knees.

The hope is that by understanding these processes, potential therapeutic targets could be revealed in order to slow the rate of disease progression or enhance the inherent repair mechanisms.

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