What Causes Joint Stiffness in Arthritis Patient?

It is observed that people usually relate joint stiffness with arthritis. The main reason for joint stiffness is inflammation in the synovium. Arthritis is one of the main factors causing abnormality in the synovium of the joint. Other factors causing joint stiffness are viral infection, injury, etc.

Joint stiffness is generally associated with Arthritis. Joint stiffness could be defined as the period of discomfort after immobility of joints for duration. There could be a number of reasons resulting in joint stiffness. Joint stiffness is considered to be one of the preliminary signs of arthritis. Hence arthritis can be said as one of the causing factor of joint stiffness.

Causes of Joint Stiffness:

Joint stiffness is basically caused due to the inflammation in the lining of the joint called as Synovium. Synovium is the connective tissue lining of the capsular ligament of the synovial joint. It is richly supplied by nerves, blood vessels and lymph. Its main function is to reduce the fiction in the joints and to lubricate them for proper functioning of the joints. Any form abnormality in the synovial lining results in the joint stiffness.

As said above arthritis is one of the possible reasons causing joint stiffness other possible factors causing joint stiffness are as follows.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):

    1% of the population is affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It is observed that women are more commonly affected by RA as compared to men. People between the age group of 25-45 years are generally affected. Joint stiffness associated to RA is characterized by swelling in wrist and hands. Organs mainly affected are knees, feet, neck, shoulder, elbows, fingers and wrists.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA):

    It is one of the most common types of arthritis. Usually people above 50 years are affected. Mainly lower back, hips, hands, feet, neck or knees are affected. Stiffness is caused due to the extra bone formation resulting in enlargement of the joints. No swelling is observed in OA.

  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR):

    People above 55 years of age are mainly affected. Mainly hips and shoulders are affected.

  • Fibromyalgia:

    This is not a form of arthritis. More often women are affected as compared to men. This condition causes severe pain in joints and muscles. It is also related with tender areas and fatigue in multiple locations.

  • Viral Infections:

    Sometimes viral infection may also result in joint stiffness and restricted movement. Rarely swelling in the affected joints is also observed. This condition generally resolves within days or weeks.

  • Other possible reasons for joint stiffness are abnormal thyroid function, side-effect of a medication or vitamin deficiency.

Symptoms of Joint Stiffness:

There are number of symptoms related to joint stiffness. Most common symptoms are listed below.

  • Severe pain in the joints
  • Restricted movement
  • Joint noises
  • Stiffness during morning or night
  • Difficulty in complete extension of the joint
  • Swelling in the affected joint

Treatment for Joint Stiffness:

There are number of treatment options available according to the type, organ affected and factor causing joint stiffness. Some of the above mentioned conditions are successfully cured with the help of physical therapy, exercise and medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are also used for treating joint stiffness. Instead of opting for over the counter medication it is better to visit an orthopedic doctor. After examining and diagnosing your condition, he would decide the treatment best suited to you.