Acute Inflammation

What is Acute Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body's normal protective response to an injury, irritation, or surgery. This natural defense process brings increased blood flow to the area, resulting in an accumulation of fluid. As the body mounts this protective response, the symptoms of inflammation develop, including swelling, pain and increased warmth and redness of the skin.

Inflammation can be acute or chronic. When it is acute, it occurs usually within a few hours as an immediate response to trauma such as an injury or surgery.. When it is chronic, the inflammation reflects an ongoing response to a longer-term medical condition, such as arthritis.

Inflammation is not the same as infection. Infections are caused by bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Infections sometimes produce inflammation. However, infection and inflammation are treated very differently.


To reduce inflammation and the resulting swelling and pain, the injured tissue needs to be properly treated as early as possible.

Treatment for acute inflammation consists of "RICE" therapy—which stands for
Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

  • Rest.Stay off of your foot as much as possible to prevent further injury. In some cases, complete immobilization may be required.
  • Ice. Icing decreases blood flow to the tissue thus reducing swelling and pain. It should be continued until your symptoms resolve. Place several ice cubes in a Zip Lock plastic bag and place a thin towel around the bag. Place the pack on the injured area until the ice melts. Do this procedure three or four times a day.
  • Compression. Keep the inflamed area compressed by wrapping it in an elastic bandage or stocking. Compression prevents additional fluid accumulation and helps reduce pain. Wrap the bandage more firmly at the toes and less firmly at the calf. If your toes tingle or your foot throbs, the wrapping may need to be loosened.
  • Elevation. Keeping the foot elevated reduces the swelling by allowing excess fluid to drain to the heart. The proper way to elevate your foot is to keep it level with or slightly above the heart. Place one or two pillows under your calf, and make sure your hip and knee are slightly bent. Never keep your leg extended straight out.

Elevate the Leg Properly

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All information on this site © 2011 Joshua Kaye, DPM.

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