Inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense system against infection and foreign substances. In most cases, the inflammatory response causes the release of white blood cells (also called leukocytes) into the affected area to clean things up, thereby increasing blood flow, which warms the area and may cause redness. It also stimulates the nerves in the areas to send pain signals, so the area is protected and not damaged further. Some of the chemicals from the white blood cells also cause fluid buildup in the tissues, which leads to swelling (or edema) and stiffness. The body’s inflammatory response can be triggered by injury, trauma, infection, burn, insect bite, or ingesting a toxin. This is what’s known as acute inflammation. It is a normal bodily response and will resolve itself as the body heals. To reduce acute inflammation, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, ice, rest, compression, and elevation may be helpful. When the inflammatory response goes awry, though, (often as a result of arthritis or an autoimmune disease) chronic inflammation can occur. Treatment for chronic inflammatory joint diseases may include avoiding activities that cause pain, taking anti-inflammatory medication, completing physical therapy, and using assistive devices to take pressure off of the joints.