If you pay any attention at all to the morning news magazines or to the afternoon doctor shows, you’ve undoubtedly heard something about inflammation. It’s a hot topic because we now know chronic inflammation plays a pivotal role in the development of many illnesses.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to any insult or injury. The redness, swelling and
tenderness that occurs when you cut a finger, burn your hand or stub a toe is an example of acute inflammation. In acute inflammation, the body rushes blood and nutrients to the affected area to begin the healing process. This is an example of good inflammation.
Chronic inflammation occurs when the body is unable to effectively deal with the injury or
condition that triggered the initial response.
Arthritis, with its tenderness, swelling, and stiff movement, is an example of chronic inflammation. Arthritis may be the best known and most common of chronic inflammatory diseases,
affecting more than 22.7 percent of Americans, but it certainly isn’t the only one.
Multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, lupus,
fibromyalgia and inflammatory bowel disease also arise from chronic inflammation. It’s also been linked to the development of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease as well as depression.
The challenge is identifying chronic inflammation in the body and treating it. It’s not the first thing most physicians think of when a patient comes into their office. Signs that chronic inflammation may be present include:
• High blood pressure
• Skin problems
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Joint pain
• Frequent infections
• Shortness of breath
Unfortunately, when patients bring these symptoms to the attention of their family
physician, they typically receive a prescription for an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or meloxicam; a corticosteroid; or other medications to treat the symptoms, such as Nexium, an inhaler, or a decongestant. These treatments may provide relief, but they are not a cure.
A simple lab test can aid in the diagnosis of chronic inflammation, called the high sensitivity cytokines reactivity protein test, or hs-CRP. Cytokines, which are produced by the liver, are the body’s way of binding to and eliminating bacteria and viruses. Unless you pester your doctor, he/she is unlikely to order the hs-CRP test for you, leaving the underlying cause of your pain, discomfort and disability undiagnosed and untreated. So how are you to ferret out the problem, much less begin to resolve it?
At Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center, we know how important it is to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of chronic inflammation, so when patients come to us with these issues, we don’t guess … we test, not just for CRP but for several markers of inflammation.
Although we’ve seen hs-CRP scores as high as 75, an hs-CRP of 3 or greater indicates significant chronic inflammation.
Addressing the underlying causes of inflammation
Healing the body is key to addressing chronic inflammation and reducing its side-effects. As in all things worthwhile, it does take some effort. At Millpond, we work with you to identify
underlying causes of inflammation through a comprehensive, holistic program. Components of the program include:
• Eliminating inflammatory triggers from the diet. This may include refined sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, Omega 6 fatty acids, refined carbs, MSG, gluten, aspartame, and alcohol.
• Increasing water intake.
• Eliminating smoking and all tobacco products.
• Improving the quantity and quality of sleep.
• Reducing stress.
• Increasing exercise.
• Physical therapy.
• Chiropractic adjustment.
• Functional lab testing.
• Integrative nutrition and supplementation
with organic medi-herbs.
If you’ve been suffering without relief, it may be time to seek out care that addresses the cause of your pain, not just its symptoms.
Dr. Justin Pearce is the founder of Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center, located at 3650 Boston Road, Suite 188, Lexington.
New patients are always welcome. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (859) 219-0617.