The phrase, “no pain, no gain” may hold some truth in the sense that short-term inflammation can help speed up the healing process. However, pain is often not an ideal thing when it comes to the body. It can indicate that there is inflammation or injury within the body. It also acts as a warning to notify us that something is amiss or needs to be repaired.
The Role of Inflammation Within the Body
Inflammation is the body’s main line of defense against cuts, bruises, and injuries. There are five successive characteristics of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. When the body is properly functioning, this speeds up the healing by isolating the affected area and sending more white blood cells to kill bacteria. The inflammation should only last a few hours up to a couple of weeks. This type of inflammation is called acute inflammation. In acute inflammation, the symptoms are temporary but often more intense.
However, when the inflammation lasts months or even years, it is called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the type most associated with pain disorders/issues, autoimmune disorders, sports injuries, etc. The symptoms are usually less severe but constant. The longer duration of the inflammation, often resulting in chronic pain, indicates the body is having difficulty healing itself or even that the white blood cells are on hyperdrive and attacking healthy cells in the form of autoimmune diseases (fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.). This leads to excess stress and wear and tear on the body, creating dysfunctional movement patterns and results in a loss of function. Other medical conditions where this can manifest are allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, COPD, heart disease, cancer, etc.
Psychological and Nutritional Effects of Inflammation
In addition to the negative effects that chronic inflammation has on the body, it can also have a significant impact on mental health. Chronic pain can lead to anxiety, depression, and problems with focus, sleep, appetite, and overall daily functioning.
Pain and Exercise
It is important to note that inflammatory pain is different than the slight discomfort and muscle tenderness one might feel after engaging in physical exercise. That is usually the result of using underactivated muscles or putting your body in ways of alignments that it is not used to, such as sitting with proper posture for an extended period of time if you predominantly slouch forward. If, however, there is a sharp or dull pain that persists for more than a few days, it’s highly advisable to get the area checked out by a medical professional.
Conclusively, no pain is better than having pain. Pain indicates that the body is running into an issue and trying to heal itself. So, if you struggle with chronic pain, that means your body is not running efficiently and excess wear and tear is taking place.
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Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
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