Years of use can take their toll on joints, muscles, and bones making stiff joints and discomfort a reality for many people. In mild cases, stiff joints can occur right after waking up or sitting down. Lying down for several hours or sitting in the same position reduces fluid amounts making joint movement more difficult after periods of time. In more severe cases, joint stiffness can be accompanied by pain and inflammation. You may have difficulty walking, standing, or putting weight on your joints.
Why Does Joint Stiffness Occur?
Not all stiff joints are the result of age or time. Many other conditions can cause stiff joints including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis- This autoimmune disorder occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissue, including the lining of your joints.
- Osteoarthritis- This form of arthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the joints is worn down over time.
- Gout- A type of arthritis, gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints.
- Lupus- This chronic autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Although inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, it is common in joints.
- Bursitis- This painful condition affects the small, fluid-filled sacs known as bursae that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed.
- Fibromyalgia- This chronic pain condition affects muscles, and patients often report joint stiffness as well.
- 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.
How is Joint Stiffness Treated?
Stiff joints are usually treated by addressing the underlying cause and taking measures to provide relief. They can include one or more of the following:
- 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 shower can also provide relief.
- Over-the-counter medications- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen may provide relief.
- Steroids- Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation, which causes stiffness and pain to decrease.
- 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.
Dr. Hicken offers top-level treatment to help you regain your mobility and provide relief for your joints. If you are suffering from joint stiffness, give us a call at 435-787-2000 to schedule an appointment.