Inflammation and Painadmin
Pain is a phenomenon which has been prevalent in the animal kingdom since life evolved on the planet. Just that humans can describe it, animals cannot. Inflammation as a condition is more recently added. Its understanding has been concomitant with the unravelling of the immune system and its intricacies. The question that springs to mind is how are the two related? Is it a chicken and egg conundrum?
Though pain is a study by itself given its myriad types and forms, as a concept it is more easily understood. Simply put it is a signal (unpleasant feeling) in the nervous system that something is wrong. Let us dwell more on inflammation, its causes, types and remedial measures.
Inflammation refers to our body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, like infections, injuries and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When cells suffer damage, the immune system kicks in and chemicals are released. These include antibodies and proteins which leads to increased blood flow to the damaged area. It may also cause redness and warmth and fluid to enter tissues causing swelling.
Like pain, inflammation is of two types, Acute and Chronic.
Acute inflammation, as in case of a cold or a bruise / cut on the knee or elbow, the whole process lasts a few hours to a few days. Chronic inflammation is slow, long-term, lasting for prolonged periods from months to years. Auto immune disorders are where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues even in the absence of an infecting agent or injury. Unlike pain, inflammation levels can be measured by assessing amounts of bio markers such as C-Reactive Protein.
By now we would have realised that pain is a sensation while inflammation is a condition. Pain is in most cases is a consequence of inflammation, pain is the effect, inflammation is the cause. But again, this may not always be the case, like when a pin pricks, the initial pain does not have an inflammatory cause, but if the wound is left to fester and let inflammation set in, there would be a extension of the pain.
On the remedial measures to deal with both, there are diverse options. Inflammation treatment will depend on cause and severity, often there may not be a need for treatment. At other times, not treating a inflammation could have life threatening consequences like sepsis. NSAID,s or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are in common use though they are merely symptomatic and do not treat the inflammation as such. In more severe forms of inflammation corticosteroids are brought into play. For dealing with pain there are a myriad option from OTC relievers to prescription drugs to steroids and opioids in severe cases. Long term pain treatment can even be addressed without drugs by modes like physiotherapy.
So yes, this question about pain and inflammation as a chicken and egg situation is a bit of a red herring. Pain is almost always a consequence of inflammation.