By Medicover Hospitals / 27 Mar 2021
Joint stiffness is the feeling of difficulty moving a joint or the apparent loss of range of motion in a joint. Joint stiffness often accompanies joint pain or swelling. Depending on the cause of the joint stiffness, redness, tenderness, warmth, tingling, or joint numbness of an affected area of the body may be present. Joint stiffness can be caused by injury or disease of the joint and is a common finding in arthritis conditions. Joint damage, including stiffness, can also occur as a result of an injury to the joint. Sometimes injury or inflammation of adjacent areas, such as the bursae, can cause pain that can restrict the movement of a joint and be perceived as joint stiffness. Joint pain is also called arthralgia.
- What is Joint Stiffness?
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is Joint Stiffness?
Stiff joints have become a reality for many people. Years of use can take a toll on joints, muscles, and bones. Many people have stiff joints right after waking up. Lying down for several hours to sleep reduces the number of fluids. This can make the joints more difficult in the morning.
Joint stiffness may be mild and only affect your mobility for a short time each morning or after sitting for long periods. Stiffness can also be more severe and impact your mobility.
In some cases, pain and inflammation accompany joint stiffness. This can make walking, standing, or the weight in your joints painful.
Not all stiff joints are the result of age. Many other conditions can cause stiff joints. These include arthritis, lupus, and bursitis. Lifestyle factors, including diet and weight, can also impact joint mobility.
Most people will experience joint stiffness at some point. Age is a common cause of joint stiffness mainly due to length of use. When age is the major reason for joint stiffness, any number of joints can be affected. Common causes include:
Bursitis develops when tiny fluid-filled sacs in the joints, called bursae, become inflamed. The inflammation causes pain as well as stiffness.
Bursitis can occur in almost any joint, but it is more common in larger joints, such as:
It is also common in the big toe.
Bursitis usually heals on its own with rest. A person should generally:
Resting the joint allows the bursae to recover, which relieves the pain and stiffness.
- reduce activities that move the joint
- resting the joint for long periods
Osteoarthritis is a type of degenerative arthritis that affects nearly 27 million people in the United States. This type of arthritis is caused by wear and tear and is, therefore, more commonly seen in people over the age of 65.
Osteoarthritis often affects:
As it progresses, it can cause:
- swelling and pain
- cracking noises with movement
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack otherwise healthy joints. People with RA will experience pain and swelling as the body attacks the joints.
- There is no cure for RA. Treatments are aimed at slowing the progression of the disease.
Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy tissues, such as muscles and joints. When lupus attacks the joints, symptoms include:
Lupus is often difficult to diagnose because many symptoms are similar to other medical conditions. There is no cure and the symptoms will get worse over time.
Gout is sudden arthritis that tends to affect men more often than women. Gout is a rapidly developing disease, with symptoms sometimes appearing overnight, often in the big toe. Symptoms include:
Gout can develop in any joint. Gout usually appears for a short time and then goes away. People with gout often have symptoms throughout their lives.
- severe pain
- severe sensitivity
- stiff joints
- swelling and increased heat of the joint
Treatment will include:
Our licensed physiotherapists will also perform a thorough assessment to determine the causes of your joint stiffness to help you resolve this issue. They use manual joint mobilizations if they feel that this therapeutic approach can help and is not contraindicated.
Your doctor may also prescribe disease-modifying drugs if your joint stiffness is disease-related and they may help slow disease progression and improve symptoms.
- Range of motion exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Aerobic exercise
When to visit a Doctor?
If joint stiffness and pain appear suddenly, talk to your doctor. Likewise, if the stiffness and pain do not go away after a period of five to seven days, you should see a doctor.
You should also seek the attention of your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
While joint stiffness is not uncommon, especially as you get older, it can be the first sign of another condition. A physical exam is an easy way to determine what might be causing the problem.
If a physical exam is inconclusive, your doctor may suggest treatments to help relieve the stiffness while you wait to see if it goes away. If it doesn't go away, you may need some tests to get a diagnosis.
Once your doctor determines the cause, they can help you determine the best treatment plan for you. It can help relieve your symptoms and lower your risk of recurrence.
- severe pain
- rapid swelling
- joint deformity
- inability to move the joint
- intense redness and warmth to the touch
- Before you start looking for treatment options, you should consult a doctor. The best way to find a suitable treatment is to find out what is causing the problem. Your doctor can diagnose the problem and recommend an appropriate way to ease the stiffness and prevent other symptoms you may be experiencing. Here are some remedies your doctor might suggest treating your discomfort:
- Over-the-counter medications can relieve mild symptoms of joint pain. NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are often used to treat arthritis.
- Cold or hot compresses can be helpful. The cold will reduce swelling, and the heat will relax muscles and joints.
- Steroids can help reduce the swelling and inflammation that causes stiffness.
- Physical therapy and exercise help improve mobility and maintain a healthy weight, which in turn can reduce joint stiffness.
- Glucosamine sulfate is a chemical that occurs naturally in the fluid around the joints. Taking glucosamine sulfate as a supplement can relieve pain and stiffness.
- Taking fish oil supplements can also reduce stiffness in the joints.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Some people use supplements to try to manage joint pain caused by arthritis. Glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3s, and green tea are just a few of them. Glucosamine helps maintain healthy joint cartilage and may have an anti-inflammatory effect. Natural glucosamine levels decrease with age.
Foods high in healthy fats include salmon, trout, mackerel, avocados, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds. The omega-3 fatty acids in these foods will help lubricate the joints. Water can help lubricate the joints. Drink plenty of water each day to make sure your joints are lubricated.
Stiff joints are signs characterized by reduced mobility or reduced mobility of a joint. You may have difficulty moving the joint or you may not fully move the joint. Joint stiffness can occur in one joint or be present in over one joint. There are many causes of stiff joints.
Joint Stiffness - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/016794579390010M
Joint Stiffness - https://europepmc.org/article/med/11782663
Joint Stiffness - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-006-0338-y