Causes of Joint Inflammation
Inflammation occurs when the white blood cells of the human body work to protect against infection from outside bacteria and viruses. However, some diseases and conditions cause the body’s immune system to trigger an inflammatory response in the absence of any threatening bacteria or virus. This results in the immune system fighting the body’s regular tissues. Many people experience this type of inflammation in their joints. Joint inflammation can be caused by a number of different conditions. Arthritis, one of the leading causes of joint inflammation, affects over 54 million people in the United States alone. Some of the other common causes of joint pain and inflammation include:
- Bursitis: inflammation of the bursae; the small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the tendons, muscles, and bones of a joint
- Sarcoidosis:a collection of inflammatory cells within the body and over 25,000 cases in the United States
- Tendinitis: inflammation of the tendons
- Herniated disc
Procedures to Reduce Inflammation
Pain management physicians are able to leverage several different types of procedures to help reduce a patient’s joint inflammation. Some procedures are more invasive than others, however, these methods have been proven to be successful in providing pain relief for patients.
- Steroid injections: doctors are able to inject local anaesthetic and a corticosteroid, typically cortisone, at the site of pain. These injections are commonly used in patients with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as other inflammatory conditions. The results usually last for several months.
- Epidural steroid injections: similar to steroid injections, these are administered in the back or neck. This type of injection is most commonly done to help with pain and inflammation in the back, leg, neck, arm, and hand.
- Stem cell therapy: this emerging treatment is continuously being studied and implemented to help reduce inflammation, particularly in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Mesenchymal stem cells have been proven to help reduce inflammation, promote tissue regeneration, and inhibit osteoarthritis.
- Low level laser therapy (LLLT): also known as photobiomodulation, this low-intensity light therapy has been proven to reduce inflammation. The light triggers a biochemical change within the cells leading to a reduction in inflammation. The results can be seen within a matter of hours for some patients, for others, within a few days.
- Hyaluronic acid injections: doctors may use hyaluronic acid if corticosteroid injections have not proven to be successful or if a patient has diabetes as steroid injections can raise blood sugar levels. Hyaluronic acid is similar to natural joint fluid allowing it to serve as a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints. It also serves as a buffer against inflammatory cells within the joint.
- Platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP): these injections use the patient’s own blood and platelets to promote healing from within. Platelets contain proteins and growth factors that aid in healing the body’s soft tissues. Research has shown that PRP injections have the ability to alter the immune response which results in reducing inflammation.