Joint Stiffness: How Does It Really Happen?

If not for your joints, your body couldn’t bend. If you wake up in the morning and find that bending your joints feels like a monumental task, that’s a sign that something is wrong. 

Joint stiffness can limit the amount of activities you’ll be able to participate in throughout the day. In addition to its restrictiveness, it’s very uncomfortable. 

If you’re dealing with joint stiffness and loss of range of motion, here’s what you need to know about the potential causes and solutions to the issue. 

What Causes Joint Stiffness and Discomfort?

Joint stiffness that appears upon waking can result from sleeping in an awkward position or with a pillow that doesn’t properly support the head. Many people will occasionally experience this type of stiffness or discomfort throughout their lives, sometimes due to falling asleep sitting up. 

Injuries can often contribute to joint stiffness and discomfort. If you were injured, this is something you’re likely aware of. If you’ve been incredibly active recently, you may have overuse injuries or workout-related soreness that’s affecting your joints. 

Chronic Conditions That Frequently Cause Joint Stiffness and Discomfort

There are two main types of arthritis: autoimmune arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis) and degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis). 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body mistakenly identifies the tissue surrounding the joints as foreign. It’s not sure why the tissue is there and has difficulty recognizing it as necessary for healthy functioning. 

As a result, it sends the immune system to attack the tissue, increasing the presence of swelling-causing cells. 

Osteoarthritis often occurs as a result of aging. Over time, the tissue responsible for supporting the joints can experience a significant amount of wear-and-tear and ultimately break down. 

Once the tissue is gone, the body cannot regenerate. Osteoarthritis requires immediate intervention and treatment to preserve the remaining tissue and prevent the damage from worsening. Otherwise, this can cause permanent joint damage.

This also means that your immune system can attack healthy parts of your body, such as the lining of the joints. Over time, it can also lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. 

Talking to Your Doctor About Joint Stiffness and Discomfort

If your joint stiffness worsens or does improve with rest, speak to your doctor immediately. After a thorough examination (including physical exam, medical imaging techniques, ultrasounds, and blood tests), your doctor will be able to help identify the cause of the stiffness and provide a diagnosis. 

Treating Joint Pain and Stiffness with Medication

For mild to moderate joint stiffness, over-the-counter NSAIDs, like acetaminophen or tylenol, can help to relieve discomfort. People diagnosed with arthritis may be prescribed arthritis-specific medication by their doctors. 

In some cases of severe pain, doctors may administer steroid injections to the site of the swelling and tenderness. 

Treating Joint Stiffness and Discomfort With Lifestyle Changes

Spending a little extra time taking care of yourself can help to reduce joint stiffness and discomfort. 

Making your bed more comfortable, assuring you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep, and staying hydrated can help to improve the way you feel. Incorporating these habits into your daily routine can produce noticeable results for your overall wellness in a relatively short period.

Excess body weight can significantly contribute to the joint strain. Reducing body weight can dramatically increase joint mobility and reduce joint discomfort. 

Eating a balanced diet is always better for your body’s ability to heal and recover. If your body can obtain the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat, it will perform its functions to the fullest extent. 

Make sure you’re getting enough protein and healthy fats. Take a pass on less nutritious foods as often as possible without depriving yourself of the occasional treat. 

Additionally, gentle movement can help to strengthen muscles and tissue surrounding the joints. Low impact activity, like gentle walking, can help support your body over time through this strengthening process.

Complementary Treatment Options for Joint Stiffness

While conventional medicine and therapies play an important role in promoting relief from joint stiffness, complementary treatments can help when used in conjunction with medicine. 

Many doctors and specialists will recommend that their patients use complementary treatments as a part of their treatment plan, as evidence supports that certain complementary treatments may be highly effective. 

Yoga and Stretching

Yoga and stretching provide an excellent opportunity for a low-impact exercise that helps to stretch stiff joints and improve circulation. 

If you’re intimidated by complicated yoga poses that involve a significant amount of balance and strength, don’t be. These are expert-level moves, and they aren’t typical poses of casual yoga practitioners.

Light yoga can easily be performed on a mat or a comfortable carpet. Some moves can even be performed in bed or on a chair. 

Simply choose a form of yoga or stretching that’s suited to your current ability. You can focus on developing a higher level of skill with experience if you want to eventually incorporate yoga as a severe discipline of your wellness routine. 

Massage Therapy

Massage is a complementary physical therapy treatment that doctors frequently recommend for patients with joint disease or injury. 

Massage provides stimulation to sore, stiff, or injured muscles and joints on the targeted side of the body. It helps to clear away accumulated tiny fluid and lymphatic byproducts that contribute to rapid swelling while simultaneously promoting the flow of oxygen-rich blood. 

This is often the reason why you may wake up with stiff or swollen hands, knees, ankles, elbows, or big toes.

Massage helps to encourage the body’s natural healing process while releasing endorphins that improve mood. Many people report that they sleep much better the night after receiving a massage because of the relaxation effects of these natural endorphins. 

Topical Products For Relief

Many people living with arthritis pain are uncomfortable with the idea of becoming too reliant on over-the-counter pain relievers. When ingested excessively, these pain relievers can irritate the stomach and cause liver damage. Health-conscious individuals often limit their usage of these drugs to reduce their risks. 

That’s why topical relief products are such a popular solution among people living with joint pain. These products use natural ingredients to provide relief from the skin’s surface and can be applied as needed. 

Massaging topicals into the affected joints two or three times a day is perfectly safe. Since the product is only applied where it’s needed, it targets the areas that need relief rather than impacting the entire body. 

Finding Relief with Hempvana

Hempvana’s Arthritis Pain Relief Gel is formulated with ingredients to help ease discomfort and promote joint health. Menthol works to create a cooling, soothing sensation that reduces discomfort. 

Chondroitin and glucosamine, commonly found in supplements designed to promote joint health, work to support damaged joint cartilage. While no supplement can regrow cartilage, glucosamine and chondroitin replenish cartilage and help cartilage retain water, providing a little extra cushion to sore joints.

Our gel is formulated with hemp seed oil, an occlusive moisturizer that helps restore the skin’s moisture barrier. After you massage the Hempvana Arthritis Pain Relief Gel into the skin, you’ll likely notice that the affected area feels softer and smoother. 

 

Sources:

Rheumatoid arthritis - symptoms, and causes | Mayo Clinic

Osteoarthritis - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Ibuprofen | Medline Plus

Acute liver failure - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic