What Is Inflammation?
Joint pain can be caused by injury affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint. Injury can also affect the ligaments, cartilage, and bones within the joint. Pain is also a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis) and infection, and rarely it can be a cause of tumors of the joint. Pain within the joint is a common cause of shoulder pain, ankle pain, and knee pain. Joint pain is also referred to as arthralgia.
When you think of arthritis, you think of inflammation. Inflammation is a process in which the body’s white blood cells and immune proteins help protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. In some diseases, however, the body’s defense system (immune system) triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.
What Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?
The symptoms of inflammation include:
- Joint swelling
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of joint function
- Often, only a few of these symptoms are present.
Inflammation may also be associated with general “flu”-like symptoms including:
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness