You’ve just had a refreshing good night’s sleep, but you can’t seem to get yourself out of bed because your joints hurt so badly. Why is this happening? Morning joint stiffness is a common problem among the elderly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a normal part of aging.
You may be experiencing morning stiffness if you are not physically active or overweight, if you have sleeping troubles, or if you live in a cold and damp area. Or, it can be a symptom of another condition that needs to be addressed, so again, no reason to rule morning stiffness out just as part and parcel of getting old.
You would think that after eight hours of rest your joints would feel better, but this prolonged period of stillness can actually increase stiffness. When we’re asleep, the fluid that keeps our joints lubricated is unevenly distributed in the joint space. As a result, some areas do not get properly lubricated, which can lead to stiffness.
In addition, while at rest, the joint cartilage soaks up this fluid, again resulting in decreased lubrication. On the other hand, when we are moving around, the fluid keeps lubricating the joints uniformly.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects the joints. There are many different types of arthritis, some stem from simple wear and tear of the joints, while other types are actually autoimmune conditions. Experiencing stiffness for an hour or more could be one of the first signs of arthritis.
The two main types of arthritis many of us are familiar with are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the two bones breaks down due to wear and tear. As a result, the bones rub together and you experience pain and stiffness. Morning stiffness is quite severe, but as you carry on with your day, the pain somewhat decreases.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system starts attacking the healthy joints. This leads to inflammation and stiffness. In rheumatoid arthritis, stiffness can last for hours and, similarly to osteoarthritis, is usually worse in the morning.
If you’re concerned about your morning stiffness, you will want to check with your doctor. Morning stiffness, as mentioned, can be a sign of other health conditions, so the sooner you have yourself checked out, the sooner you will start feeling better.