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What are Pain and Inflammation, and Why is it Important That We Learn About This?


by Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, MS. DC, CCN, DACBN

(The Best Years in Life) Statistics show that inflammation is rampant in our society. How many people do you know that are dealing with some sort of a disease or condition that ends in “itis”?

It could be arthritis, osteoarthritis or gastritis. Name any part of the body and put an “itis” at the end and that’s an inflammatory disease.

Pain is really your body’s warning system.

It is similar to the beeping of a fire alarm when it detects smoke. Your brain perceives irritation to the nerve endings, which are like little antennas that peek in on various parts of your body and check to see if everything is okay. If there’s a problem, they beep that message back to the brain and the brain perceives it as pain.

Unfortunately, the way that we tend to deal with pain in the Western medicine world is to suppress it. If you have pain, you get a painkilling or anti-inflammatory medication. What that does is it disconnects your brain from the source of trouble.

For example, if you fall and hurt your ankle and you have pain in your ankle, if you do not suppress the pain, the signal that you’re going to be getting from your brain is, “Be careful of that part. Don’t put too much weight on that part. Don’t bang that part into something.”

If you take a pain medication to stop the pain, you feel much better. That’s great, but you run the risk of further injuring yourself because you’re disconnected from the source of trouble. You don’t realize that there’s trouble anymore because you’re no longer getting the pain signal.

Should you take pain medications?

Taking pain medications without really getting at the underlying cause of a problem can cause the problem to worsen. On top of that is the fact that there are side effects of taking pain medications.

It’s not clear that there’s any real benefit to taking pain medication, except in situations where the pain is so intense that you just can’t function.

What I recommend to people who are in that situation and taking painkillers is to act as if the pain is still there, especially in the case of acute pain right after an injury. You still have to treat that part of your body carefully even though you no longer feel the pain.

Here’s another example.

If you have pain in your abdomen and you take a pain medication, that pain goes away. If you then you go out to a Mexican restaurant and eat tacos and cheese and other heavy foods, that’s going to go into the area that’s already irritated and make it more irritated, which will cause further malfunction and dysfunction in that area.

So, what is inflammation?

When we look at something that’s inflamed, we see swelling and redness, and we may feel heat. What’s going on?

Inflammation is actually your body’s protective mechanism when you have an injury.

If you bang your elbow and there’s damage to the underlying tissue, your body is going to try to heal that area. It sends white blood cells (lymphocytes) into the area. These cells are part of your immune system. The blood is sent to the area to heal it.

When the lymphocytes rush to the area, you get swelling. In an area like the elbow, there isn’t a lot of loose space, just bone and skin. If that swells, it’s going to cause pain because the swelling is irritating those pain receptors we just talked about. They’re giving that signal back to the brain, so you get the perception of, “Hey, something’s wrong over here!”


How should inflammation be treated?

Western medicine makes the mistake of attempting to get rid of inflammation as if it’s the bad guy. In some cases it is, and should be managed so as to bring about the most favorable healing conditions.

The key word is “manage.” We don’t want to get rid of inflammation. If you were to permanently get rid of inflammation and never allow it to happen again, you would soon be dead. That’s not an overstatement. Inflammation protects you.

There are a lot of reasons why inflammation lingers long after the need for protection and healing is gone. There are also situations that cause the inflammation to linger because the area of injury is not healing.

When inflammation continues to fire long after the need is gone, or when an injured area doesn’t heal properly, it’s often a matter of nutritional imbalances and biochemical imbalances in the inflammatory pathways. When you’re missing the necessary vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids for healing, inflammation fires on.

What are the solutions for managing pain and inflammation?

Learn more about how to manipulate your own inflammatory pathways so you can heal and live with comfort and ease:

For a list of anti-inflammatory foods and recipes, go here for a FREE e-book:

Love, Health, and Joy,

Dr. Ritamarie

About the author

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo holds a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree with Certification in Acupuncture, and is a Diplomat of the American Clinical Nutrition Board. She is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, with a Master of Science in Human Nutrition. She also holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from New York University. She is also certified as a living foods chef, instructor, coach and teacher.

Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Nutritional Perspectives, Natural Awakenings, Purely Delicious, and many other national magazines as well as countless online publications. She is in great demand as a speaker at conferences nationwide. She is the founder of the International Association of OnLine Holistic Nutrition Professionals (AOLNP) and the author of several books.

Be sure to visit her main website at:




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