You just dropped an iron on your big toe.
After crumpling to your knees and spewing a curse word or two, you know what’s going to happen. Your toe will turn bright red, it’ll get very hot to the touch, it will be sore and puffy. You may not be able to move it for a while. These are all signs of inflammation, your body’s natural defenses coming to the rescue.
What you can’t see is the dilation of the blood vessels, which allow more blood to reach the tissue. This blood contains a gang of white blood cells rushing into the wounded tissue, ready to fight a battle against infection. Inflammatory mediators trigger immune system cells to pass out of the small blood vessels to prevent further tissue damage. Hormonal signals irritate nerves and cause pain. Inflammation, from the Latin “inflammare”( to burn), sounds an alarm to your entire body. If something hurts, you’re more likely to notice and protect that body part.