Since inflammation is such a focal point in the discussion of various types of arthritis, it can be easy to miss the bigger picture. The human body has an incredible defense system, and it can either be your best friend or your worst enemy.
A dysfunctional immune response leads to rheumatoid arthritis and other forms. The immune system becomes robotic, and instead of performing normal preservation of well-being, it becomes destructive, developing into an autoimmune disorder.
Understand what autoimmune disorders are and you’ll understand arthritis much better, leading to improved management and better results.
How the Immune System Works
Every person has one main internal ambition, and that’s to survive, whether it’s against disease, injuries, or even the common cold.
The immune system intends to protect your body from any threats, such as viruses, pathogens, germs, harmful proteins, chemicals, toxins, and cell changes that could make you ill.
It comprises various organs throughout the body, including the kidneys, gut microbiome, liver, pancreas, brain, bone marrow, thymus, lymphocytes, and the mucous membrane of cells in every corner of your body.
The majority of your immune cells develop and multiply within your bone marrow, which is the soft tissue inside the bones. The cells then move on to other organs through the bloodstream.
The immune system signals the brain to say that the body is under attack, and the brain will instruct the kidneys to release pro-inflammatory cytokines to combat the infection or abnormality.
Pain is triggered when the inflammation presses against nerve endings. It can be mild or severe. The immune system fights foreign agents that threaten your well-being, and this naturally causes inflammation and pain.
It has to recognize and neutralize anything that threatens your health, and it even fights abnormal cells that cause cancer. Antigens, which are proteins that surround viruses, germs, and bacteria, activate the immune system.
The spleen also stores immune system cells called scavenger cells intended to attack abnormalities. The lymph nodes and various other organs trap the germs in these immune cells to create antibodies so you can fight the virus faster in the next round.
However, the connection between the brain and the immune system is the most important one. The brain receives signals, but only after the immune system has already determined whether cells are threatening.
It’s the brain’s job to regulate the response as the immune system awaits its instructions. The brain only has the information that the immune system provides, but what happens when this communication goes wrong?
The Attack of the Defenses
The signals passed to the brain from the immune system can be faulty when immune cells distinguish their own kind as pathogens. Every cell in the body has a protein surrounding it, and the immune system can falsely identify the wrong threats.
B cells are the type of immune cells that enter the bloodstream to recognize and latch on to unwanted or threatening cells. Sometimes, normal cells can become deformed in people with arthritis, and B cells identify these cells as targets.
Moreover, these cells can fool other cells when they turn bad, sending signals to the brain to activate pro-inflammatory cytokines unnecessarily. The cytokines will flood your body and attack the site where they were instructed to go.
Even worse, the immune system starts attacking healthy cells, which is known as an autoimmune response. Arthritis sufferers have chronic autoimmune responses where the brain has been on the attack for so long that it can’t switch off anymore.
Eventually, it will even target cells and tissue without protein antigens. The destructive force of the autoimmune response can tear cartilages, break down bone structures, and deteriorate the bone marrow and joint capsules around your joints.
The immune system is intended for temporary preservation, and it can be activated to run permanently. It certainly doesn’t help if you’re encouraging the autoimmune response with unnatural foods, environmental toxins, and frequent injuries.
The microbiome that protects your gut is very sensitive to everything you consume, and it signals the immune system when threats are found. Every organ in the immune system can also be affected by the autoimmune response.
Additionally, it’s easy to understand how you can have problems years after you break your ankle. Chronic inflammation is another major cause of autoimmune malfunctions.
Chronic disease processes like lupus and psoriasis can activate the autoimmune response too. Any disease process that causes inflammation will increase your risk of autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Not paying attention to protecting your delicate system can cause problems. Sometimes, even medications can provoke chronic inflammation. Make sure you understand what triggers can cause the immune system to activate and try to avoid them.
Start being more aware of what you eat or drink and how you treat your body. Stop brushing mild infections off as nothing and realize that repeated infections can lead to lifelong problems.