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What is an Inflammatory Disease?

By L. Hepfer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An inflammatory disease may consist of many types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis or bursitis, polymyalgia rheumatica and gout. Other conditions involving inflammation include fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

When a foreign substance is detected within the body, white blood cells release chemicals into the bloodstream or affected tissues. This results in an increased blood flow to one particular area, usually causing a warming sensation or redness in the skin and sometimes swelling. The inflammation may stimulate the nerves in the affected area of the body and cause various levels of pain.

Since there are a number of inflammatory substances in one particular area, the cartilage may be worn down and a person may experience irritation in that area. Aside from the redness and warming sensation, and along with the irritation, a person who has an inflammatory disease may experience joint pain or stiffness as well as a loss of function in the joint. Other symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and headaches.

Autoimmune disorders can cause inflammation within internal organs. Myocarditis causes shortness of breath and swelling in the legs when there is inflammation in the heart. Nephritis can cause kidney failure or high blood pressure when there is any inflammation in the kidneys. Colitis, which is an inflammatory condition of the colon, can cause diarrhea and cramps. When the small tubes that provide air to the lungs become inflamed, it may result in an asthma attack.

Pain-sensitive nerves are not present in all organs of the body; therefore, pain may not be a symptom when trying to diagnose an autoimmune disorder. In order to properly diagnose any inflammatory disease, a physician will perform a physical exam and go over a patient's medical history. The physician will evaluate the painful joints in the patient as well as other symptoms. X-rays and other tests may be ordered to properly diagnose the inflammatory disease.

Treatment for any inflammatory disease can vary from physical therapy to medications to surgery. Various medications may include over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, or steroids and anti-malarial medications that can be ordered through prescriptions. A person's age, overall health, the type of inflammatory disease he is experiencing and his medical history will weigh heavily on a physician's final decision for the methods of treatment that should be used.

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Discussion Comments
By anon75030 — On Apr 05, 2010

I found this article very useful in describing the different types of inflammatory arthritis as well as explaining that pain might not be felt internally and that this is the reason for so many blood tests to be done. Thank you.

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