The inflammatory process and how to use it to our benefit

Dealing with the inflammatory process, and using it to our benefit at Brill Physical Therapy

What is inflammation?

Inflammation in the most general form is actually the first stage of the body’s natural healing process. When injury occurs, the body releases chemicals that cause swelling to protect the area, and inflammation that brings cells to promote healing. The inflammatory process brings white blood cells to help break down potential infection, and cells known as “phagocytes” to help break down damaged tissues. After this occurs, healing and repair of the damaged areas can begin.

The problem occurs when the body gets stuck in this cycle, and cannot move past the inflammatory stage. Chronic, low grade amounts of inflammation and swelling will remain in the tissues, impairing the body’s ability to heal. This is when doctors like to employ the use of anti-inflammatory medications in order to help the body heal and reduce pain. This is also why physical therapists like to use modalities such as ice to help promote healing chronically inflamed areas.

How can we use inflammation to our benefit?

As physical therapists, Brill Physical Therapy will use certain manual techniques to introduce low-grade amounts of inflammation to specifically irritated areas to help promote the breakdown of congested or scarred tissues. These techniques will introduce a controlled reaction to help encourage the start of the body’s natural healing response. While we like to finish many of our sessions with ice to help control post-treatment discomfort, you will notice that these sessions will never finish with ice. Ice is used to help prevent inflammation; in these situations, we actually need a controlled inflammation response to yield the desired result. Generally, Brill PT will recommend avoiding the use of ice or anti-inflammatory medication for several hours to allow the inflammatory reaction to break down the desired scarred areas.

How do I know if this type of treatment is right for me?

Here at Brill Physical Therapy, we are highly trained in a variety of manual treatments, and will carefully evaluate our patients to see when this type of therapy might be beneficial. Treatments might vary by session, and we will be careful to thoroughly explain how this process applies to you specifically.