Joint stiffness is commonly a symptom of diseases such as arthritis. Morning stiffness usually occurs when you try to get out of the bed. The stiffness can sometimes be severe enough to an extent of interfering with your ability of performing daily tasks.
Being able to note joint stiffness and seeking early treatment can help you feel better, slow the progression of disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and also reduce* joint damage. This will also help you live a more active and productive life.
Joint stiffness can sometimes occur without pain. In order for a physician to be able to make a diagnosis he/she will need to know if you experience other signs and symptoms.
Joint stiffness which is as a result of rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the knees, wrists, feet, elbow, finger and hand joints and ankles. Sometimes the hip, shoulder and jaws may be affected.
Morning joint stiffness that does not last for more than an hour is more likely to be caused by osteoarthritis and other non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions.
There are several theories which explain the cause of morning stiffness. One of the theories is the gel phenomenon. Gel phenomenon theory says that joint stiffness develops after a long period of sitting and being inactive. Some researchers believe that insufficient cortisol that is released on the body at night can result to joint stiffness.
Joint stiffness can last for more than two weeks and can also result to muscle aches and pain. Doctors usually diagnose joint stiffness by checking the active range of motion if there is any swelling, tenderness and enlargement.
Joint stiffness can be treated by medication and several types of therapies. Medicine helps in relieving the pain and the stiffness. Examples of the medicine include disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), glucocorticoids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), analgesics and biologic response modifiers. Prednisone tablets also help in managing morning stiffness. The tablets are prescribed to be taken at 10pm and usually deliver doses of prednisone to the body after 4 hours helping in suppressing IL.6.
Therapies can also be helpful in improving* your mobility, reducing* pain and increasing* your flexibility and strength. You can also get relieved from pain and joint stiffness by delivering heat through hot packs, electric mitters, spas and ultrasound.
One of the therapies is called hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy involves relaxing and exercising in warm water. Cold water can also be helpful in treating acutely inflamed joints.
Relaxation techniques can help in relaxing muscle tension, relieving pain and stiffness. You can also do your work using your body so that you can reduce* stress on the joints. This can be done by using the strongest joints in the body. A physical therapist or occupational therapist can teach you how to achieve these techniques.
Self care is helpful in relieving the joint stiffness. Self care includes weight control and exercises. Weight control helps in reducing* stress on joints while exercises strengthen your muscles and joints. One of good exercises is water aerobics. Water aerobics helps in improving* your range of motion without putting a lot of stress on the joints.
You can also ensure you are involved in activities at least for some time in a day. You can take a walk in the park or jog for around 30 minutes every day.
The following are other tips that can be helpful in managing morning joint stiffness:
- Ensure that your bedroom environment is warm. You can do this by ensuring* a comfortable temperature on the thermostat. You can also use heating pads and electronic blankets for extra warmth.
- Take a hot shower when you get up in the morning. You can do this by just standing under the hot shower and relax for some time.
- Do a few exercises. You should do the exercises when your muscles loosen up.
- Ensure you sleep in a position that supports your joints.
- You should do some stretching before you get out of bed. This helps you to limber up.
- You should avoid things that can put you to tension.
- Delay your activities until late in the day.
Morning joint stiffness can lead to inability to do your daily chores and can also affect the quality of life therefore you should ensure you get involved in activities that can help you reduce* morning stiffness.