7 Top Tips to Fight Inflammation
Learn ways to fight inflammation from Summit Orthopedics expert Dane Hansen, D.O.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is an important tool of your body’s immune system. When you are sick, or a part of your body is injured, inflammation is one of the ways your body responds. The redness and swelling that marks inflammation is an important early step in the healing process, and it helps to keep infection at bay. However, in some cases, the body responds to stress with widespread, low-grade inflammation—which can harm your health, including your joints.
“When we use the word ‘inflammation,’ we mean one of two things,” said Summit orthopedic surgeon Dane Hansen, D.O. “Acute inflammation is the localized redness and swelling that you get when you cut your finger or sprain your ankle. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, happens throughout your body. It can increase your risk of chronic disease.”
Like the fight-or-flight response, the body can react with inflammation for a variety of reasons. That’s why it’s helpful to know how we can lower our body’s inflammation levels.
How can we fight inflammation?
There are many lifestyle changes that can reduce inflammation. Here are a few simple steps you can take:
- Get enough sleep. “Getting adequate sleep is a big way to decrease systemic inflammation,” Dr. Hansen said. Go to bed at the same time each night, if you can, and put your phone or other devices away an hour before bedtime.
- Quit smoking. Add another negative health effect to smoking’s list: smoking boosts inflammation. Smoking injures every cell in the body, causing inflammation as the body tries to heal the damage after every cigarette.
- Reduce stress. Stress is seemingly everywhere in modern life, but taking steps to manage stress effectively can help reduce inflammation. “Stress causes an inflammatory response in the body,” Dr. Hansen said.
- Consider an anti-inflammatory diet. “In general, an anti-inflammatory diet is a whole-food diet that avoids processed foods and sugars,” Dr. Hansen said. “The diet features Mediterranean-style eating with nuts, olive oil, fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables, especially dark green veggies.”
- Look into supplements. There are three supplements that evidence has shown to be effective in lowering inflammation: turmeric, ginger, and fish oil. “Although many other supplements have been advertised as anti-inflammatory, there is not adequate research to show an effect,” Dr. Hansen said.
- Lose excess weight. Body fat, especially around the middle, has been shown to cause inflammation. “Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight—as little as 10 pounds—can result in a measurable dip in the body’s inflammation,” Dr. Hansen said.
- Use standard remedies. The tried-and-true medical solutions to joint inflammation, whether caused by arthritis or not, are still effective. They include RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), and, in some cases, cortisone injections.
When to seek treatment for your arthritis
Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
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