Most arthritis patients know that inflammation means swelling. What they don’t know is that a simple blood test can determine whether inflammation is making their condition worse. Here’s how this test works.

The word inflammation literally means “to cause fire.” When an area of our body is injured, it swells and gets hot.

Think of your arthritis pain as a small local fire. Like any small fire, it either will quickly die out or it will spread to other areas. When a person with very little whole-body inflammation is injured or experiences localized arthritis pain, it’s like a small fire in a wet forest.—it doesn’t last long.  The arthritis pain is confined to a small area of the body and goes away fairly quickly. If a small fire is introduced into a hot, dry forest with other small fires, however, it will burn hotter and hotter.  A single painful arthritic joint in an already inflamed body can set off an increase in pain throughout the body.

Authors of a new study to be published in April 2015 in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases looked at 32 other published studies of a common inflammatory blood marker, C-reactive protein (CRP). A high level of this marker indicates that whole-body inflammation is high and correlated across the many studies that showed more pain and disability from arthritis. A lower CRP indicated lower whole-body inflammation, correlating with less pain and disability caused by arthritis.

To learn whether your CRP is high, and therefore likely to be contributing to increased arthritis pain, ask your doctor to order a special test for  CRP called hsCRP. Results under 1.0 mg/L mean that your whole-body inflammation is not likely to be contributing to increased arthritis pain and disability. Results above 3.0 mg/L indicate that your whole-body inflammation is contributing to increased arthritis pain and disability. High hsCRP levels also are associated with higher cardiac risk.

Results between 1.0  and 3.0 mg/L indicate that you should be concerned about pushing your levels lower. An anti-inflammatory regimen combining supplements and regenerative medicine can lower your CRP.

Understanding the status of your body’s inflammation can determine whether you become disabled by arthritis or are able to continue normal activities as you age.

Understanding Inflammation Can Help Your Arthritis first appeared as a post on the Regenexx blog.

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