If you can't get out of bed or stand up from a sitting position without emitting audible moans and groans, you're probably suffering from stiff joints, a common complaint among older adults. Whether joint stiffness is a minor inconvenience, or it impacts your mobility, understanding why your joints are stiff and taking steps to reduce stiffness can improve your range of motion and your overall quality of life.
Stiff joints can have a number of causes. The most common cause of joint stiffness and pain is rheumatoid arthritis, which affects over 1.5 million Americans and is managed with the help of medications and other treatments.
Another common cause is osteoarthritis, which is most common among people over the age of 65 and causes a loss of cartilage in the joints, resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Bursitis can also cause joint stiffness and pain, typically in the larger joints, such as the elbow, knee, shoulder, or hip joints.
Gout, which often comes on suddenly and affects men more often than women, is a type of arthritis that typically affects the big toe first before spreading to other joints, causing severe episodes of pain, tenderness, and stiffness.
Many older Americans who suffer from joint stiffness attribute their stiff joints to aging, but a visit to your physician can help you pinpoint the underlying cause. Knowing what's causing your joint stiffness helps you and your doctor create an effective plan to reduce stiffness and pain.
If joint stiffness lasts longer than a half hour after getting out of bed, or if your stiffness is worsening, make an appointment with your doctor. Likewise, if you're experiencing severe pain, rapid swelling or the inability to move the joint, or if the joint is red and hot to the touch, see your doctor.
There are several home remedies that can help reduce stiffness in the joints and improve your range of motion.
Both heat and cold are therapeutic remedies for joint stiffness. Icing your joints for 20 minutes a few times a day can help reduce inflammation and swelling to reduce stiffness and dull pain. A heating pad or hot water bottle applied to stiff joints helps to reduce stiffness and increase circulation around the joint.
If your stiff joints are also painful, over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin can relieve pain and improve your range of motion. However, excessive use of these medications carries a range of health risks, so it's a good idea to use them as sparingly as possible.
Exercise helps to increase joint mobility, which can reduce pain and stiffness. Additionally, since extra pounds can exert excessive pressure on the joints, exercise can help you lose weight to reduce the impact on your joints.
Low-impact exercises are great for improving joint mobility. Try water aerobics or swimming, bicycling, yoga, or walking. Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week for the best results.
Glucosamin sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, turmeric, quercetin, and bromelain are all substances that have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve joint stiffness and pain. A daily supplement containing these ingredients supports joint strength and density and increases joint mobility.
Don't let stiff joints get you down. There's plenty you can do to reduce stiffness and pain from forming and help prevent the stiffness from worsening. Work with your doctor to address associated medical problems and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, plenty of exercise, and helpful supplements that promote healthy joints and overall good health.
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