joint stiffness

Connecting every bone in your body is a joint. Joints not only form the connections between your bones, but they provide the support that allows you to move. When joints become damaged from disease or injury, you can experience pain, mobility issues, and more.

If you’re experiencing joint stiffness, it may be due to an injury or a medical condition. Fortunately, many treatments and home remedies can help ease your pain and discomfort.

Read on for everything you need to know about joint stiffness, including causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.

Causes of Joint Stiffness

Many things cause joint stiffness, but the most common causes are injuries or specific conditions.

Injuries like sprains and strains can cause mild to severe stiffness in the joints while conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and gout can also cause joint stiffness.

Joint Stiffness Symptoms

The main symptom of joint stiffness is the stiffness itself and pain in the joints and the surrounding areas. Joint stiffness can affect any part of the body and pain may range from mildly irritating to debilitating.

Joint stiffness may be accompanied by swelling, and the affected area may be tender, red, or warm. In some cases, you may experience a lack of mobility or the sensation that the affected joint is difficult to move.

These symptoms could last for just a week or two but sometimes symptoms are ongoing.

Joint Stiffness Treatment Options

Treatment for joint stiffness will depend on the underlying cause – but the goal of treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint (or joints) and restore function. Possible treatments for joint stiffness include:

Medications for Joint Stiffness

If your joint pain is moderate to severe and you’re experiencing swelling, an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium, can provide relief. If your pain is mild and you’re not experiencing swelling, acetaminophen can help.

In cases where your pain is severe and NSAIDs don’t help, your doctor may prescribe something stronger.

OTC Creams and Topical agents for Joint Stiffness

There are lots of over-the-counter creams and topical agents with various ingredients that can help ease the pain of joint stiffness. While some have a cooling effect, others use heat to relieve symptoms. Menthol, for example, is an active ingredient in various OTC creams and topical agents that works to provide relief via cooling.

Capsaicin (a substance found in peppers) on the other hand, blocks substance P, which transmits pain signals in the body. Capsaicin also releases endorphins, which are a natural pain blocker.

Whether you prefer cooling or heating creams, most are available in drug stores or online and are relatively inexpensive.

Injections for Joint Stiffness

If your pain doesn’t respond to the above treatments, your doctor may recommend an injection of steroid medication. These are injected directly into the joint every three to four months. This treatment is typically used to help those suffering from arthritis or joint disease rather than joint stiffness and pain caused by an injury.

Physical Therapy for Joint Stiffness

Working with a physical therapist (PT) can help strengthen the muscle around the joint. This can stabilize the joint and improve your range of motion. Your PT may also use other techniques like ultrasound, heat or cold therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, and manipulation.

Joint Stiffness Home Remedies

You can help relieve joint stiffness and pain at home with a few simple techniques. One of the easiest and most effective methods is R.I.C.E.:

  • Rest the joint and avoid any activities that cause pain
  • Ice the affected joint for 15 minutes at a time, several times a day
  • Compress the joint using a wrap
  • Elevate the joint above your heart

Vitamins and Supplements for Joint Stiffness

Certain vitamins and supplements have been shown to help ease joint stiffness, specifically glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are both found in cartilage and help cushion and protect the joints and bones. These come in capsule, powder, tablet, and liquid form and don’t have any significant side effects so they are largely safe to take.

How to Prevent Joint Stiffness

  • Diet and exercise: Being overweight can place excess stress on your joints, leading to joint stiffness and pain. Eating a whole foods diet and getting enough exercise can help you lose weight, which will result in less stress on your joints. We recommend implementing low-impact exercises, like cycling and swimming, since these won’t further irritate your joint(s).
  • Don’t push yourself too hard: Starting a new activity can be particularly hard on your joints. When starting any new activity, start slow and don’t push yourself too hard. Listen to your body and know when to rest. If you feel any type of pain in your joints, stop the activity right away.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re suffering from joint stiffness, let us help you get back to doing the things you love. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.