Inflammation

Fast facts about inflammation

  • Inflammation is the body’s normal protective response to injury38
  • Chemicals released by the inflammatory process cause pain, warmth, redness and swelling of the affected area39
  • Inflammation can become misdirected, e.g. in arthritis, and cause damage to joints39
  • Inflammation may be associated with flu-like symptoms, e.g. fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, muscle stiffness and loss of appetite39
  • Inflammation and swelling can be treated by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen38

Acute inflammation is our body's normal protective response to an irritation, surgery or injury.38 The most common symptoms of acute inflammation are pain, redness, warmth, and swelling in the traumatised area.38

During inflammation, white blood cells release chemicals to help protect the area from further damage.39 These chemicals cause some fluid to seep into the tissue which is why the area may swell.39 They also increase blood flow to the area which is why it becomes red and warm.39 If you experience pain in the inflamed area, then it's because the process has stimulated the nerves.39


Inflammation may also be associated with flu-like symptoms, e.g. fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, muscle stiffness and loss of appetite.39 Inflammation may be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).38 Acute inflammation happens within two hours of an injury and generally improves within two or three days.38 Chronic inflammation is a long-term and ongoing response to a medical condition.38 Arthritis is a good example.38


Self-treatment of acute inflammation

To reduce inflammation and the resulting swelling and pain, the earlier you start treatment, the better.38 Follow the 4 steps known as RICE: Rest the injured area; Ice the area for 20 minutes at a time; Compression with an elastic wrap will control swelling; Elevating the area will reduce swelling.38


Would an analgesic be of value?

Yes, inflammation and swelling can be treated by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.38


When to see a doctor

See a doctor if you're still experiencing pain and discomfort after three days.38

Frequently asked questions

View