Acute Inflammation

Acute inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury, disease, or infection. It's considered a safeguard against further damage and helps to facilitate healing. This type of inflammation usually only lasts for a few days, and the primary symptom is pain. Other symptoms include redness, swelling, and heat around the affected area.

The signs of acute inflammation are part of the body's innate defense mechanisms. It is triggered by the release of histamine, bradykinin, and other vasoactive chemicals from inflammatory cells in response to injury or damage. This elicits leukocyte migration and stimulates the release of additional substances, including prostaglandins, cytokines, and other components of extracellular matrix molecules.

Common Symptoms of Acute Inflammation

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Immobility of the affected area
  • Loss of function

Most of the signs of acute inflammation can be grouped together in the acronym PRISH: pain, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat. Although other signs such as loss of function may occur, these are the primary physical signs used to diagnose acute inflammation.

Other Signs of Acute Inflammation

Aside from the physical symptoms of acute inflammation, there are other signs and symptoms that may suggest the presence of this condition. These include fever, chills, muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, and a general feeling of unease.

These signs can help to diagnose acute inflammation even when the physical signs are not present. For example, pain is one of the primary symptoms of inflammation, but a patient may not report any pain if the area of inflammation is located deep within the body.


Acute inflammation can usually be treated with over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe stronger medications such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain. Additionally, cold or hot compresses may also be applied to the affected area to reduce swelling.

In some cases, a doctor may also recommend physical therapy exercises to reduce inflammation and improve joint function.