Chronic Inflammation: A Road to Relief

BELOW IS A BLURB from Tucson Lifestyles Magazine. TO READ THE full ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.

Ardeschir Mehrabani, N.M.D., used to suffer from chronic lower back pain caused by inflammation. “I used to deal with chronically inflamed peripheral nerves,” says Mehrabani, a doctor of naturopathic medicine. After years of trying to find lasting relief, he has overcome his chronic back pain using perineural injection therapy. He is in no pain and can play soccer and spend boisterous time with his two young children.

\His experience is what guided him to natural medicine as a young man, says Dr. Mehrabani, who owns Blue Oak Clinic with his wife, Stephanie Stark, N.M.D.His story is one of many instances when chronic inflammation may play a role in disease. Medical doctors and other health professionals have recognized for a few decades that chronic inflammation is related to many diseases. But there still is much to learn.

Current research ranges from understanding how chronic inflammation works to developing treatments. “We’re looking at the triggers of inflammation that may allow us to look at the mechanism,” says Randy Horwitz, M.D., medical director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. “It frequently leads to therapies, but its aim is often simply to understand the process.”

The Body Inflamed

To understand chronic inflammation, it helps to know how acute inflammation crucially works to heal the body. When you get sick or injured, your immune system engages. The attacked part of your body becomes inflamed with redness, warmth, pain, swelling and loss of function. Dr. Horwitz calls it a “cellular yell for help. ”Specific types of cells respond by fighting the agent that caused the injury or illness. The defeated germs are swept away and inflammation disappears … but not always.

Sometimes inflammation remains when there is no longer any triggering injury or disease. Or the body issues an inflammatory response even when there is no danger. In either case, constant inflammation can cause the immune system to attack healthy cells. We have two types of immune systems. Innate, or natural, immunity dispatches certain white blood cells to attack harmful substances in the body. When this system’s inflammatory response goes haywire, rare autoinflammatory diseases could result. The acquired immune system learns what’s dangerous by having dealt with specific illness or injury or through immunization.

Different types of white blood cells fight these learned dangers. When this system goes into overdrive and attacks normal cells, it’s called autoimmunity. An autoimmune condition can lead to chronic inflammation, such as in rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. But chronic inflammation also is seen in a wide variety of other diseases, including asthma, allergy, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and gum disease. Recent research also ties it to Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers and mood disorders such as depression. Milder chronic inflammation may be present in some forms of osteoarthritis.

READ MORE in the January 2018 Tucson Lifestyles Magazine edition