What Causes Stiff Joints?
Do you find it more difficult than usual to walk, stand, type, or perform other daily tasks? If so, you could be suffering from stiff joints. Stiff joints can affect any joint in your body, including your fingers, hands, wrists, knees, and elbows.
What is Joint Stiffness?
Joint stiffness can occur when a joints range of motion is limited or difficult to move. It’s common to happen after lying in bed or sitting for some time. You may have difficulty walking, standing, or putting weight on your joints. In other cases, it can be more severe and include pain and inflammation.
Here are a few common reasons joint stiffness may occur:
Rheumatoid arthritis– This chronic inflammatory disorder causes your immune system to attack the lining of your joints. It often affects the wrists and the small joints of the hands and feet.
Osteoarthritis– This type of arthritis occurs when cartilage, which cushions your joints, breaks down with age. It often affects the knees, hips, neck, lower back, and fingers.
Gout– A type of arthritis, gout can come on suddenly and affect any joint. The big toe is often the first to experience symptoms.
Lupus– This chronic autoimmune disease often affects the knees, wrists, and finger joints. Symptoms can come and go abruptly and range from mild to severe.
Bursitis– Bursitis occurs when bursae, which are tiny fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning become inflamed. It is most common in the elbow, shoulder, and hip, although it can affect any joint.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)– This inflammatory joint disease almost always only affects people over age 50, causing stiffness and pain in the shoulders, neck, hips, wrists, and fingers.
Fibromyalgia– This chronic pain condition affects muscles, and patients often report joint stiffness as well.
Hypothyroidism– An underactive thyroid gland can cause many symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, and joint stiffness.
Bone cancer– This is rarely a cause of joint stiffness, but when it occurs it most commonly affects the long bones of the arms and legs.
Joint Stiffness Treatment
The best way to find a suitable treatment is to determine what is causing the problem. You should see a doctor before you begin researching treatment options. Your doctor may diagnose the issue and recommend an appropriate way to ease stiffness and prevent other symptoms you may be experiencing. However, below are some common treatments for relieving stiff joints.
Heat or cold– A cold compress used 15 to 20 minutes at a time several times a day can reduce swelling and pain. A heating pad or hot bath or shower can also provide relief.
Over-the-counter medications– Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may provide relief, especially if your stiffness is caused by arthritis.
Steroids– Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation, which causes stiffness and pain to decrease. Shots may become less effective over time, however.
Physical therapy– Directed exercises can increase mobility and help relieve stiffness.
Losing extra weight– If you need to lose some extra weight, doing so may help reduce some of your symptoms.
Are you suffering from stiff joints? Make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today to start your healing journey. OrthoArizona has 21 offices throughout the Valley, each focused on quality care, compassion, and excellent customer service. Since 1994, OrthoArizona has been dedicated to compassionate care of the highest quality.