Joint stiffness is a sensation of difficulty of moving a joint or the loss of range of motion of a joint. This condition usually doesn’t occur alone, but it’s accompanied by joint pain and also swelling of the joints. Joint stiffness exists in different severities, depending on the cause. Some of the common symptom persons affected with this condition may present with include tenderness of the joint, redness, warmth, tingling or numbness of an affected area of the body. Joint stiffness may be due to an injury or a disease of the joint. Joint damage can also develop following an injury to the joint. Other conditions that could lead to joint stiffness include injuries or inflammation of the adjacent areas of the joint such as the bursa, can lead to discomfort, and reduce the movement of a joint, which may be perceived as joint stiffness.
Joint stiffness is capable of reducing the productivity of an individual, especially when it’s left unmanaged for a long time. Persons affected with this condition may also have difficulty putting weight on their joints. Some of the factors that may lead to joint stiffness include the following:
- Obesity or overweight.
- Unhealthy diet.
What Are The Causes Of Joint Stiffness?
Most people would experience joint stiffness at some point in their lives. However, one of the most common factors in the development of joint stiffness is age. Studies have shown that this condition is more prevalent in old people. In this type of situation, any number of joints may be affected. Below are some of the common causes of joint stiffness:
- Bursitis: This is one of the conditions that lead to joint stiffness. It’s a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs, also known as the bursa. The function of the bursa is to cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints. Bursitis mostly occurs in parts of the body such as the shoulder, elbow and the hip. This condition tends to occur near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion. Some of the symptoms of this disorder include stiffness of the joint, redness and swelling of the joint, and persons affected with this condition may experience pain when the joint is moved or pressed. This condition most commonly affects the big toe. Bursitis usually heals by itself with rest. However, some of the ways of improving the symptoms of this condition include the following:
- Reduce activities that involve the joint.
- Rest the joint for long periods
Resting the joint for a long period of time gives it time to recover, and relieving the pain and stiffness.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative type of arthritis that affects many people, especially in the United States. It’s the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones degenerates over time. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint. It mostly affects the joints of the hands, hips, and spine.
The symptoms of this disease can be managed, although the damage to joints is permanent. Some of the symptoms presented by persons affected with this condition include joint stiffness, pain, tenderness in the joint, loss of flexibility, bone spurs, swelling and so on. Some of the ways of preventing this condition are by staying active and maintaining a healthy weight. Treatments centers around improving the pain and also reducing the swelling in the joints. However, people with a severe form of osteoarthritis may have to undergo surgery.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that does damage to the joints, and to the entire body in general. This disease causes signs and symptoms such as the swelling of the affected joints. It also causes the affected joints to become warm and painful.
Persons affected with this disease find it difficult moving their joints, especially in the morning, although, it usually gets better in the later part of the day. Other conditions that are associated with this disease include anemia, inflammation around the lungs and the heart. Others include fatigue, fever and so on. The symptoms of this disease don’t just occur, but comes on gradually, over the years. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet, however, environmental and genetic factors have been identified to contribute largely to the development of the disease. This disease has no cure yet, however, there are treatments that can be used to slow the progression of the disease.
- Lupus erythematosus: Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that happens when the body immune’s system attacks the body tissues and organs. This reaction causes inflammation in many body systems. Some of the systems that are commonly affected include the skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. This disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. Some of the common signs and symptoms of this disease include fatigue, fever, joint stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints, butterfly-shaped rash on the face, chest pain, dry eyes and so on. The purpose of treatment is to improve the symptoms of the disease. This disease has no cure yet, and the symptoms will worsen over time.
- Gout: This is a condition that usually develops suddenly. It’s a sudden onset arthritis that mostly occurs in males than in females. The signs and symptoms of gout may develop overnight. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease include the following:
- Severe pain
- Stiffness of the joints.
- Tenderness of the joint
- Swelling and warmth of the joint.
This condition can affect any joint. It usually appears for a short period before disappearing. Persons affected with this disease do experience it on and off throughout their life. The purpose of treatment is to reduce the severity of the symptoms and reducing the level of uric acid in the blood.
When Is It Important To Go See A Physician?
It’s important to go see a physician when you notice that you experience joint stiffness first thing in the morning, or for long periods of time.
“Handout on Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis”. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. August 2014. Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
Majithia V, Geraci SA (2007). “Rheumatoid arthritis: diagnosis and management”. Am. J. Med. 120 (11): 936–9. PMID 17976416. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.04.005.