If you experience stiff joints – be it in the morning, as you age, or somewhere in between – you are not alone. Joint stiffness is often associated with joint pain and swelling. Depending on what causes your stiff joints, redness, tenderness, tingling, warmth, and/or numbness may be present. Furthermore, injury, joint disease, or arthritic conditions may cause stiff joints.
Aging comes with several complications and unfortunately stiff joints may be one of them. As you age, your cartilage begins to dry out and stiffen. This spongy material protects the ends of your bones and causes a “grinding pain” when bone connects with bone. Your body produces less synovial fluid as you age. Synovial fluid acts like oil to keep your joints moving smoothly. What can you do to stop your fluid from drying up? Movement actually keeps joints loose and functioning without pain.
Synovial fluid doesn’t just dry up when you age. When you are sleeping and still for several hours – or work in a sedentary position all day – the fluid in your joints begin to dry. This means they won’t perform well once you decide to start moving. So when you wake up in the morning with knees, ankles, or hands that are stiff and swollen it is your synovial fluid not functioning. To make it better, try to move around enough during the day so they don’t stiffen at night.
We’ve discussed barometric pressure and how it affects your body many times. While your grandma probably didn’t know the science behind why her joints hurt when the weather changes, it is very much a real thing. When atmospheric pressure changes dramatically (as is the case in weather changes), your body reacts negatively. Also worth noting, sea level also may take part in joint pain.
As we have mentioned, a joint is the place where two bones meet. Moreover, the end of each bone is covered with cartilage – a layer of protection to keep bones from rubbing together. However, cartilage can wear away over time or after an injury (post-traumatic arthritis). When this cartilage is gone, the bones rub against one another can cause tiny pieces to break off. This results in stiff, swollen, and painful joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
Joint stiffness doesn’t always mean you have RA, but it is worth making sure you don’t. Your immune system is there to protect you from outside germs. However, sometimes it backfires and attacks the lining of your joints instead. Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks wrist or finger joints, but it has the ability to affect anywhere in your body. Those with RA know well that it causes constant pain and stiffness – even if it only flares up now and then.
Our staff at Metropolitan Pain Consultants looks forward to hearing from you. You can contact us at (201) 729-0001. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West Orange, Aberdeen, Clifton, and Lyndhurst.
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