The Process of Inflammation is a vital concept for you to understand if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendonitis related pain.
The vast majority of Tendonitis 'definitions' out there simply say that Tendonitis is 'Inflammation of a Tendon'.
Well, ok, but what does that mean, and how does it help you?
Clearly it doesn't help you, or you and hundreds of thousands of people like you would not be in pain right now.
What it means is that for a variety of reasons, there is a Process of Inflammation happening at an affected Tendon.
Learning what exactly a Process of Inflammation is can help you understand exactly what is happening in your body that is causing pain.
What makes the Process of Inflammation a Process of Inflammation?
AKA, The Inflammation Cycle.
AKA, The Inflammation Response.
AKA, The Inflammation Process.
First off, please STOP calling it 'Inflammation'.
Please START calling it a 'Process of Inflammation' or an 'Inflammation Response'.
Because 'Inflammation' is not a specific 'thing', it is an ecology, a process, a dynamic.
The Inflammation Response is not a static condition. It is always changing, one thing building on another, with a large number of variables.
This article talks about 3 aspects of inflammation: always active, a little or a lot, still there when the pain is gone. See: Tendonitis and Inflammation
You can have a small injury with a HUGE amount of pain from the Inflammation Process.
You can have a huge injury with very little pain if you successfully manage the Inflammatory Process. Meaning that you can 'beat' inflammation.
Click Thumb Injury for an educational story about a thumb injury and how the inflammation response was eliminated.
The body's Inflammatory Response to injury (or perceived injury) is an integral part of the Pain Causing Dynamic.
Interestingly enough, Inflammation can cause tissue specific Vitamin B6 deficiency. See the Carpal Tunnel and Vitamin B6 Deficiency page for more on that.
The First step of the Process of Inflammation is INJURY.
Specifically speaking of Tendonitis, this can be a small rip or tear, or itsy bitsy tiny wear-and-tear micro-trauma.
Tendonitis is usually a slow build up of continuing micro-trauma and increasing Inflammation where you have episodes of pain that go away and progress to non-stop constant pain.
As you continually get small amounts of damage that results in a a continual and increasing Inflammation Response, a couple other things happen that create a snowballing, pain-increasing effect.
But you could also get Tendonitis occurring from a one-time event, like someone goes out and shovels gravel for 8 hours, or a professional baseball pitcher throws way too many pitches in a day, or you knit a sweater all day long in some new posture and all of a sudden pain is present.
Either way, every time even the smallest amount of damage occurs, the nervous system notices, and activates the Process of Inflammation.
This is an incredibly complex, microscopic, full body system that involves kajillions of cells, neuropeptides, neuro-receptors, synapses, etc.
I'm going to keep it very simple and conceptual for you.
The complexity can be incredibly interesting and I'll create a page on that later. But for now, let's tell you what you need to know to help you understand your pain so you can get rid of your pain.
Anyway, first there is INJURY. Then the nervous system triggers an Inflammatory Response.
The body is trying to protect you and heal you, so it rushes lots of new blood to the area filled with nutrition. In that blood it also sends a whole army of different Immune System soldiers to eat up dead cells and any invading bacteria that may be there.
It also sends various proteins and such that end up as scar tissue. It's the same protein your tendons and tendon sheaths and connective tissue are made of, but the way the body lays it down it ends up being scar tissue.
The above is all valuable to know. Keep reading if you want to become pain free.
The following is VITAL for you to know about this response to injury.
Instantly a couple of other things happen when the nervous system senses injury:
1. Fluid gets trapped in the area.
2. Chemicals that enhance your sensitivity to pain flood the area.
Around and between all your billions of cells is fluid filled space called Extra-Cellular Space. The fluid is called Extra-Cellular Fluid, or Interstitial Fluid.
This is a vital part of your circulatory system. Not only do you have fluid pumping through your arteries, and returning to your heart from your veins, but you also have a Lymphatic System.
Your veins return about 20% of the fluid pumped from your heart back to your heart.
The other 80% is Interstitial Fluid in your Extra-Cellular space, and that is returned by the Lymphatic System.
So when I say fluid gets trapped in the area, I mean that the Extra-Cellular Space gets filled up with more and more fluid.
You can actually get cell damage from inflammation.
Nutrition has a harder time swimming to its target cells through all the extra fluid in the area. Thus you can essentially starve cells when you have inflammation going on.
Ever stub a toe or hurt a finger so bad that it swells up to twice it's size?
Think of all that extra fluid stuck in that space!
Heat brings blood to the area.
If you put a hot pack on, blood flows to that area. When you take a hot shower, blood rushes through your muscles to your skin.
Heat feels good. It makes injuries feel good. Because new blood filled with oxygen and nutrition is entering the area.
That's great. Except for.....
All that extra fluid getting trapped in the area. Now you are adding new fluid to get stuck there. And cell starvation.......
So not only do you have lots of fluid trapped in the area, but you have some degree of cell starvation, and the chemical that increases your sensitivity to pain that is continually being released gets trapped.....AND you have waste product from normal cell metabolism getting stuck in the area.
You know how you create waste from eating and digesting? So do your cells.
When you have a lot of swelling, like a swollen toe or a bigger body part, it can become something of a sewer in there.
Circulation is key, my friends. Circulation is key.
Use Heat to bring blood to minor aches and pains. But not for injury, and certainly not for acute injury.
If you are hurting from Tendonitis, consider it an acute injury. If you use do use heat, always always ALWAYS finish with cold.
It is vastly more effective, and helps kick out inflammation.
Your best options:
A. Icing in a variety of manners, including Ice Packs, Ice Dips, Ice Massage, and finishing your showers on cold.
B. Alternate heat and cold. Always finish on cold. Alternating hot and cold vastly increases the Circulatory Turnover.
C. Massage, from a variety of sources including self-massage.
For the record, anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen are NOT your best option (aside from some temporary pain killing benefit)
Have you ever had an injury, or at least had an area that was painful, and just touching it with the slightest amount of pressure made it hurt A LOT?
At a slight pressure, your aren't actually damaging anything.
When you have an injury, the reason a little bit of pressure can equal severe sharp pain is because your neuro-receptors are set on edge.
As part of the Process of Inflammation, your body releases chemicals that enhance your sensitivity to pain.
These little guys and gals reset the pain threshold of your neuro-receptors such that every little movement, every little touch now 'feels' like way too much for your liking.
It makes sense that you are designed like this. If you are injured and everything hurts, you're more likely to just hang out until you are 'healed'.
Your nervous system wants to keep you safe. Ironically, the way it does that is by making you hurt. Theoretically, if it hurts to move, you won't hurt.
If you do hurt and keep keyboarding or knitting or whatever, you can be sure that your body will create more pain until you actually HAVE to stop doing whatever hurtful activity that you are doing because the pain will be so intense and debilitating.
Just because you hurt more and more until it is disabling, does not mean that your injury keeps getting worse and worse.
It certainly can be the case that that is happening, but usually with a Tendonitis injury it's just that all the factors of the Pain Causing Dynamic, which includes the Process of Inflammation, conspire to make you hurt REALLY BAD even though your injury is NOT really bad.
My point is, SEVERE PAIN is the result of a lot of pain enhancing chemical floating around, NOT necessarily a result of SEVERE (or even Mild) INJURY.
Circulation is the key to feeling better.
The Process of Inflammation traps fluid in the area, and there's a lot of 'stuff' in that fluid that you don't want there, like pain enhancing chemical and metabolic waste product.
If you want to feel better and have your injury heal faster, you gotta get old fluid out and get new fluid in.
You're probably reading this because you have pain from Tendonitis and you want it to go away RIGHT NOW!
You're in luck. You can start today for Free! If all you do is knock out the inflammation and get all the benefits when you do that, you will be feeling WAY better in a couple hours, and possibly pain free in a week or less.
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