The first phase of a musculoskeletal injury is inflammation. This phase is painful and causes swelling in the joint, adding mechanical pressure on the nerve endings leading to pain or discomfort. Pain often results in dysfunction and requires a Physical Therapist intervention. No matter the joint injured (shoulder pain, neck pain, low back pain, knee pain), inflammation is an issue of volume and too much volume in a confined area results in pain and movement dysfunction. This discomfort is typically worse in the morning as the fluid collects in the joint. This nerve ending irritation also leads to variable symptoms such as pulsing or throbbing, since there are many different types of receptors in the joint all affected by the increase in pressure. Sometimes the swelling is extensive and pain is felt throughout the whole day, not associated with any specific movement.
These symptoms occurring around the clock are problematic and worrisome, as no one enjoys discomfort in the morning, or worse throughout the entire day. Typically some over the counter Tylenol or Advil (NSAIDs) can improve these symptoms, but these anti-inflammatory methods are hard on the gastrointestinal tract, may increase cartilage breakdown, and aren’t always beneficial.
By inhibiting inflammatory prostaglandin activity, NSAIDs

(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may inhibit muscle protein synthesis after a workout. In layman’s terms, NSAIDs may prevent strength. Also, NSAID junkies usually aren’t aware that chronic NSAID use breaks down joint cartilage (for more reading see: Inflammation and antiinflammatory medication;Inflammation in Sports).

 
Luckily, simple dietary adjustments decrease inflammatory signalling, as effective as NSAIDs. Simply follow these anti-inflammatory foods and avoid the pro-inflammatory foods during any initial injury for further improvement!

Anti-inflammatory Foods

  • Omega-3 monounsaturated
  • Fish oil 3-9 g/d
  • Flax seed
  • Avacado
  • Mixed nuts

Pro-Inflammatory Foods

  • Polyunsaturated fats
  • Sunflower
  • Processed foods
  • Vegetable oil
  • Anything with Omega-6

Supplements to Improve Inflammation

Antioxidants

  • Green teas and berries

Vitamins Impeding Recovery

  • Vitamins: B, E
  • Minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese

Vitamins/Minerals to Promote Healing

  • Vitamin A (10,000 IU/day)
  • Vitamin C (2,000 mg)
  • Copper (4 mg)
  • Zinc (30 mg)
Next time you have an injury and go to the bottle of Advil, think about trying a different solution without contributing to arthritis or gastrointestinal problems. 
Dr. John, DPT