To understand inflammation and the role it plays when it comes to disease, you must first know exactly what it is. Inflammation symptoms include swelling, redness, heat and pain. These happen as a result of dilated blood vessels around the area subject to one of a number of types of triggering trauma. Next, you should know that there are two distinct types of inflammation. The first is what we call acute, and the second chronic.
Acute inflammation is a reaction caused by pathogens, infections, irritants, injury, and any other type of harmful stimulus to the body in a specific area. In all actuality, this helps repair the body, and without inflammation, our bodies would never heal.
However, it is when it becomes chronic that inflammation starts to pose a serious threat to the well being of our bodies. Chronic means being constant, or happening over a long period of time, so when inflammation becomes chronic, it is in a constant state of destruction and healing with any or all of the symptoms described before. This leaves the door open for a number of medical issues to occur, from mild to severe pain, to a wide spread of related disorders and diseases. A reference list of common disorders and diseases related to chronic infection is available here.
When it comes to exercise, acute inflammation plays a vital role in rebuilding, strengthening, and growing muscles. The stress and damage suffered by muscle fibers during training, lifting, and competition causes what we recognize as soreness, usually some time well after we are finished exerting ourselves. This soreness, characterized by a reduced ability to move, and mild pain when doing certain activities or performing certain actions is a result of acute inflammation to the affected area(s). Conversely, chronic inflammation can result in muscle loss because it creates ‘noise’ that disrupts the signals initiating muscle growth. It has even been suggested that since with aging chronic inflammation is more likely, that this is the cause of muscle loss that comes with age.
If you experience inflammation of any kind that is not a direct result of regular physical exercise you should see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you experience inflammation and soreness from exercise for an uncommon period of time. Regularly scheduled physicals will ensure you are not unaware of a more pressing issue or medical condition.