Joint Stiffness

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is joint stiffness?

Joint stiffness is the feeling that the motion of a joint is limited or difficult. The feeling is not caused by weakness or reluctance to move the joint due to pain. Some people with stiffness are capable of moving the joint through its full range of motion, but this movement can require force.

How common is joint stiffness?

Joint stiffness is common. Although joint stiffness is more common in older people, it can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Which signs and symptoms can joint stiffness usually be associated with?

Related signs and symptoms include:

  • Joint pain and/or swelling
  • Cracking noises with movement
  • Joint deformity


What causes joint stiffness?

Causes of joint stiffness can include:

  • With age, stiff joints become a reality for many people. Years of use can take their toll on joints, muscles, and bones. Many people experience stiff joints just after waking up. Lying down for several hours to sleep reduces fluid amounts. That can make moving joints more difficult first thing in the morning.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The most common cause of joint pain is arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Its symptoms typically appear between ages 30 and 60. RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder. It’s also an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks healthy parts of your body, such as the lining of your joints. This causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Over time, it can also cause joint deformity and bone erosion. RA has no cure, so its symptoms can’t be eliminated entirely. They can be managed through medication and other treatments. However, once the disease is advanced, little can be done to prevent disability.
  • Osteoarthritis (OA). Another common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA). OA is sometimes called degenerative arthritis. It’s most common in people over age 65. This type of arthritis results from wear and tear on your joints. Cartilage, the thin tissue that protects the bones in your joints, wears away with use. Over time, the cartilage can no longer protect your bones. As the condition worsens, your bones may break more easily, and you could develop bone spurs. In advanced stages of OA, the cartilage disappears. Bones rub against other bones in your joint. This can cause extreme pain, stiffness, and disability. Treatment for OA can help replace some of the lost cartilage and fluid in your joints. Lifestyle treatments aimed at reducing weight and pressure on joints can be effective too. In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be necessary.
  • Lupus is an autoimmune disease like RA. Your body attacks itself, including your organs and tissues. Lupus that attacks your joints can cause stiffness, pain, and swelling. Lupus is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic many other conditions. It may take several months for a lupus diagnosis while tests rule out other conditions. Like RA, lupus is chronic. Once you develop it, you will likely experience symptoms of the condition for the rest of your life. There isn’t a cure, but treatments are effective at reducing and controlling symptoms.
  • Bursae are tiny fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, ligaments, and muscles in your joints. You develop bursitis when those sacs become inflamed. This condition can cause stiffness and pain in the affected joint. Bursitis is often temporary, and treatment relies on resting the affected joint for several weeks. This may mean you need to reduce physical activity and keep the joint stationary for periods of time. This allows the bursae to recover and stiffness to resolve.
  • Unlike some other possible causes of joint stiffness, gout comes on suddenly. It may appear while you’re asleep, which may make the joints especially painful when you wake up. Severe, sudden episodes of pain and tenderness in joints characterize gout. Gout can impact any joint. The big toe is frequently the first joint to experience symptoms. Gout is a type of arthritis. It affects men more often than women, but a woman’s risk for developing gout increases after menopause. Most people will deal with periods of gout symptoms for the rest of their life, but symptoms are treatable.
  • Bone cancer. This is rarely a cause for joint pain and stiffness, but it is a possibility. People with bone cancer may experience joint pain or bone pain. You may also experience swelling or sensitivity near a bone. Not everyone will have pain, which is why bone cancer may advance and begin causing other symptoms before it’s discovered. Cancer is treatable, but the outcome depends on several factors. These factors include the size, location, and type of tumor. Treatment options for bone cancer include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.

The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of joint stiffness. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for joint stiffness?

You are more likely to experience joint stiffness if you have any of the conditions mentioned above.

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

When to see your doctor

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:

  • Rapid swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Deformity of the joints
  • Joint redness that is hot to touch
  • Loss of mobility in the joint

On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage joint stiffness?

These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with joint stiffness:

  • Using hot and cold compresses
  • Taking otc anti-inflammatories
  • Losing excess weight
  • Doing exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Taking supplements, such as fish oil and glucosamine sulfate

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.