If you have ever stubbed your toe or sprained your wrist, you are probably familiar with acute inflammation, in which the injured area will quickly swell in size and become red and tender to the touch. This is part of your body’s natural immune response to injury, which removes pathogens and repairs any damage to the surrounding tissue.
However, if your body cannot fully recover from an injury, or it overcompensates (if you have an autoimmune condition like lupus), you may end up with chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation can become systemic and result in a host of other health issues, such as allergies or dermatitis.
Fortunately, chiropractic care can help you fight the symptoms of chronic inflammation. Here, Dr. Nathen Horst explains how chiropractic adjustments can reduce chronic inflammation by reducing the role of cytokines in the immune response.
Striking a Delicate Balance in Treating Inflammation
It should be obvious that it is better to treat inflammation in the acute phase, rather than waiting until it becomes a chronic condition. The same immune responses that can help reduce acute inflammation can actually make chronic inflammation worse.
One example can be found in cytokines, which are proteins that, among other functions, help move white blood cells to the injury site; they play a key role in the body’s immune process. Dr. Horst will want to encourage more cytokine response in cases of acute inflammation in order to help speed healing, as white blood cells are key for the best immune response. However, he will want to lower the cytokine response for chronic inflammation, so as to break the cycle of an overactive immune response to inflammation.
Lowering Cytokine Response
The cornerstone of chiropractic care is the belief that most, if not all, issues in the body are a result of pressure that is placed on the nerves leading in and out of the spine. A chiropractic adjustment, or manipulation, gently maneuvers the spinal vertebrae back into proper alignment, thereby removing pressure on nerves. This, in turn, allows for proper signaling to take place between the vertebrae and the brain.
For example, Dr. Horst may perform an adjustment to your cervical vertebrae (the top seven vertebrae of your spine) to help reduce allergy symptoms as a result of chronic inflammation. By opening up the space between these vertebrae and releasing pressure on the nerves, the immune response cycle that continually signals cytokines can be broken, thereby reducing chronic inflammation.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Cytokine Response
In addition to regular chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Horst recommends lifestyle changes that you can make that will also reduce the cytokine response to chronic inflammation. Regular exercise and changes in diet can help in reducing chronic inflammation and cytokine production cycle. Dr. Horst recommends loading up on fresh fruits, dark-green leafy vegetables, lean meats, and fish. Vitamin D and magnesium can also help reduce inflammation.
If you suffer from chronic inflammation, it can seem as though you may never get better. Fortunately, a combination of chiropractic adjustments, exercise, and changes in diet can help break the cycle of chronic inflammation by reducing the cytokine response.