Many forms of arthritis are caused by chronic low lying inflammation. Inflammatory cells called cytokines lead to the production of enzymes that attack the tissues and break down cartilage in joints. The word ‘arthritis’ literally means inflammation (itis) of the joints (arthri).
When the body feels as though it is ‘under attack’, it responds by sending white blood cells to that area in an attempt to repair. In cases of chronic inflammation, when these cells fall victim of misfiring, this ‘repair’ actually becomes the damage. The increase in blood flow to these areas causes tender, red, and swollen joints. In turn, the nerves are stimulated, and pain is the result. The heightened number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint can cause irritation, wearing of the cartilage, and swelling of the joint lining (synovium).