Chronic inflammation – what is it?

You may have heard of inflammation, but what causes it, how can it affect us, and what can we do about it? This week, were answering some questions on inflammation.


What’s inflammation anyway?

Chronic inflammation is one of the most significant health issues many of us will face today. It’s been linked to everything from chronic pain to a wide range of other mild and serious medical conditions.  Inflammation however, isn’t always a bad thing – It’s important not to mistake acute inflammation for chronic inflammation. This is because Acute inflammation describes your body’s natural defense mechanism against injuries or toxins – this response is incredibly important to support the healing process and reduce the risk of further harm to the body – what we’re concerned about here is chronic inflammation –this occurs when your immune system is constantly stressed.

In 2014, it was estimated that over 50% of people had at least one chronic condition, and 40% had more than one[1]. Chronic inflammatory diseases can include respiratory and heart disorders as well as diabetes.


How does inflammation affect the body?

Unlike the normal inflammatory response that happens after an injury and goes away within a few days, chronic inflammation is an abnormal response that can last years.

The combination of chronic inflammation and an excess of white blood cells can cause some problems for your immune system. In some cases, your immune system may even begin to target healthy cells and structures.  If sustained over a long period of time, you may experience changes in your cells, tissues, and organs that can increase the likelihood of disease.

Chronic inflammation can affect your body in many ways, including:

  • Chronic inflammation can cause your immune system to function sub-optimally.
  • Fatigue, increased blood pressure, insulin resistance, and poor appetite have also been linked to chronic inflammation.
  • Heart disease and other neurodegenerative disorders have been linked to long-term chronic inflammation.[2]

Of course, one of the most significant challenges is that chronic inflammation can be invisible unless you know where to look.

Some of the classic signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Insulin resistance. Insulin helps control the sugar level in your blood, and inflammation could affect how well your insulin works.
  • Muscle weakness. Chronic inflammation can cause your immune system to mistakenly attack and inflame your muscles, which could make you weaker.
  • Fatigue. Fatigue is a sign of long-term inflammation and common in inflammatory diseases like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.[3]


How can we reduce inflammation?

The good news is that reducing your risk of chronic disease and inflammation begins with the simple choices you make each and every day, living a healthy life is the single most important step, so If you believe you’re not eating, sleeping, or moving as well as you would like, it’s worth addressing as a way to help reduce your risk of inflammation.

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are all ways that have been shown by research to effectively reduce pain and inflammation naturally. Your diet and daily exercise routine play a huge role in managing chronic inflammation because each influences your weight and sleep patterns.[4]

Foods high in antioxidants (like berries, turmeric, green vegetables) can also lower your overall inflammation and provide you with more energy, whereas daily exercise can help protect you against conditions such as heart disease and obesity, which have both been linked to chronic inflammation.

The fundamentals points to consider are:

  • Eating right. Fruits and vegetables are high in natural antioxidants and may protect the body against inflammation.
  • Getting enough rest. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule can reduce your physical and emotional stress levels, which has been linked to a lower risk of chronic inflammation.
  • Staying active. Exercise can lower the amount of pro-inflammatory chemicals in your body and benefit your cardiovascular and mental health.


How can Chiropractic help?

Chronic inflammation is one of those conditions which Chiropractic can’t treat directly – there’s no adjustment which will reduce inflammation in the body. What we can do is help you to reduce factors in your life, such as musculoskeletal pain, which prevent you from living a healthy and active lifestyle, which in turn can reduce your risk from inflammation – and may also improve your overall quality of life!





[1] Chronic Inflammation. StatPearls. 2021.

[2] Chronic Inflammation in the Etiology of Disease Across the Life Span. Nature Med. 2019.

[3] Signs of Chronic Inflammation You May Not Expect. WebMD. 2019.

Understanding Acute and Chronic Inflammation. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020.

[4] Understanding Acute and Chronic Inflammation. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020.


Blog by / December 3, 2021 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007