Inflammation. It’s natural, it serves an important purpose, we all know about it, we are always experiencing it to some degree, and for some reason, a heap of us think it’s a bad thing. I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify a little more about what Inflammation is, what it is useful for, and why rushing to the supermarket shelf may not be the best option.

Now, I’m referring more so to acute, musculoskeletal (bone and soft tissue) inflammatory effects. I will not be looking into the more systemic and disease related inflammatory issues, these topics are large, intricate, and are not best described in a brief blog.

This is more for the day to day ankle sprain, shoulder injury and neck pain, that our population experience pretty regularly in our lives.

Here’s a nice description of inflammation, from a very reliable source. I have extracted a little bit out for you and left the link at the bottom of this post;

Inflammation is – very generally speaking – the body’s immune system’s response to stimulus. This (stimulus) can be bacteria colonizing a wound or a splinter piercing your finger, for example. Inflammation happens when the immune system fights against something that may turn out to be harmful.


It involves a cascade of physiological events right down at the cellular level and is generally a really useful and very necessary process. Unfortunately, it can be uncomfortable or painful, and this often leads people to rush straight for the meds. I think this ultimately is a result of the way in which we have been exposed to advertising and generalised, media enhanced information over the years.

I am the son of a Pharmacist, and have been around and exposed to medications of all sorts over my lifetime. I have also worked in highly medicalised environments with very unwell people. I have learned and been taught by my exposure, that there is a time and place for medicine. It should not be seen always as a first port-of-call and it should rarely be self prescribed.

But now, it is so easy to get our hands on things, and we often consider because the ad said it was safe, and ok, that we are able to go ahead and self prescribe. But most of the time, we don’t really pay attention to the reasons why we shouldn’t.

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It seems illogical to use a medication to stop a useful, natural process doesn’t it? Let alone expose ourselves to potential risks (albe them low in most cases, they are risks nonetheless). I support the use of medication and anti inflammatories in the right set of circumstances, but I mostly encourage people to hold off a little to allow the body to do it’s thing. If the process of inflammation and pain is no longer useful, but is persisting anyway, at that stage,  it makes more sense to reduce it. But before that stage, shouldn’t we let our incredible, natural recovery system have a chance?

My advice – talk with an informed health professional about your situation, because each individual injury and circumstance is different. Or if you want to inform yourself, use the right sources, not the TV ad.

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