Inflammation, a normal part of the body’s immune response, is the body’s first attempt to heal itself after an injury, to repair damaged tissue, and defend against foreign invaders.  

Inflammation is a three-step process:

  • Irritation
  • suppuration, or the discharge of pus
  • Granulation. In other words, a scab forms


Physical signs of inflammation are:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Pain
  • Immobility


Without inflammation, infections and injuries would never heal and the tissue would continue to sustain further damage. Inflammation can be categorized as either acute or chronic, understanding the difference is a crucial step toward overall health.

Acute Inflammation

Acute inflammation is the body’s immediate response to harmful stimuli. Acute inflammation is a direct result of your immune system springing into action; blood vessels dilate, flooding the area with germ-fighting white blood cells. Then, the healing process can begin.


Examples of conditions related to acute inflammation include, but are not limited to:

  • Bronchitis
  • Infected ingrown toenails
  • Sore throat from cold, flu, or allergies
  • Scratch or cut on the skin
  • Intense exercise such as running, weight-lifting
  • Appendicitis  
  • Dermatitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Meningitis
  • Sinusitis


Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can last several months or even years. This type of inflammation is not typical. With chronic inflammation, the immune system is constantly activated, wreaking havoc on the body and increasing your chances of developing everything from allergies to Alzheimer’s.


Examples of conditions related to chronic inflammation include:

  • Failure to eliminate cause of an acute inflammation
  • An autoimmune response to a self-antigen
  • A persistent, low-intensity irritant
  • Asthma
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Periodontitis
  • Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Sinusitis
  • Hepatitis


Chronic inflammation is an indicator of a serious health problem. If you are experiencing chronic inflammation, you should seek medical attention.


Massage’s Role in Treating Inflammation

Massage therapy cannot cure diseases associated with chronic inflammation.

With proper techniques massage therapy can:

  • Help patients relax
  • Manage stress
  • Manage pain levels.  


If you have been diagnosed with a disease associated with chronic inflammation, it is vital to tell your massage therapist, so they can employ techniques that will help you rather than worsen your condition.


Whether you’re experiencing acute or chronic inflammation, it’s important to understand what inflammation is, how your body reacts, and how to best treat your body to optimize your health.