What to do for stiff joints

As the cartilage that protects the end of your bones dries and stiffens with age, you become more vulnerable to stiff and achy joints.

Stiff joints may impact people only in the mornings or after sitting down for a long period of time, however this is usually a temporary discomfort that goes away with movement. However, for some people, it can be more serious, very uncomfortable and even impact mobility.

Some factors that may impact joint stiffness include diet, arthritis, weight, lupus and bursitis.

Some serious causes of joint-pain and stiffness include:

Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack otherwise healthy muscle and joints, causing stiffness, swelling and pain. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for lupus, so treatment orients around relieving the symptoms.

Osteoarthritis
This form of degenerative arthritis causes pain and swelling that may be accompanied by a cracking noise during movement. It is caused by general use and so is more common in older people. This degenerative type of arthritis most often affects the fingers, knees, back, neck and hips. While those with particularly painful symptoms may require surgery, most treatment involves reducing pain and swelling.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Mostly impacting adults between the age of 30 and 60, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints, causing pain and swelling. There is no known cure for RA, and medical advice is required to slow the progression of the disease.

Gout
This a quickly developing arthritis that causes tenderness, stiffness, pain, heat and swelling in the joints. It will often reoccur throughout someone’s life for short periods of time and go away on its own. Lowering the level of uric acid in the blood and minimising symptoms are the focuses of medical treatment.

Bursitis
Bursae are tiny, fluid-filled sacs in the joints. When these become inflamed, you may experience stiffness and pain, and this is known as bursitis. It commonly develops in the hips, elbows, shoulders, knees and ankles. It will normally heal on its own if the joint is allowed to recover. Resting the joint by avoiding its use and movement should allow the bursitis to heal.

Luckily there are a number of over-the-counter or home remedies that can be used alongside prescribed medications and lifestyle changes. These include doing exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, supplements, hot and cold compresses, losing weight and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.

If you experience a loss of mobility, severe pain, swelling, redness, heat or deformity in the joint you should seek medical assistance.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Liv Gardiner

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