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What makes joint stiff (Why they hurt and how to treat them)

What makes joint stiff (Why they hurt and how to treat them)

Potential causes of stiff joints and what to do about them

Many people experience stiff joints as they age. Others may experience joint stiffness due to medical conditions and lifestyle choices. 

As you age, your cartilage –– the spongy material that protects the ends of your bones — begins to dry out and stiffen. Your body also makes less synovial fluid, the stuff that acts like oil to keep your joints moving smoothly. The result: Your joints may not move as freely as they used to. It sounds a little crazy, but the best thing you can do is keep on trucking. Synovial fluid requires movement to keep your joints loose. 

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Osteoarthritis (OA) A joint is the place where two bones meet. The end of each bone is covered in a layer of rubbery stuff called cartilage. This keeps them from rubbing together. But cartilage can wear away over time or after an injury. When it’s gone, the bones hit one another, and sometimes, tiny pieces break off. The result is a stiff, swollen, painful joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Your immune system is supposed to protect you from outside germs. Sometimes, it attacks the lining of your joints instead (your doctor will call this the synovium). RA is most likely to affect your wrist or finger joints, but it can show up anywhere in your body. It often causes constant pain and stiffness. Sometimes, it stays in the background and only flares up now and then.

Change in the Weather Did your grandma say they knew when a storm was coming because their joints ached? They were right. Doctors aren’t sure why, but joint pain seems to get worse when the weather changes. It’s most common when the air pressure (the weather forecaster will call it barometric pressure) falls. That typically happens just before a storm.  

Fibromyalgia This chronic condition causes joint and muscle pain, along with sleep, mood, and memory problems. Scientists think your brain takes normal pain signals and makes them worse. They aren’t sure what causes it, but it often follows an illness, surgery, or intense stress. It doesn’t damage your joints the way arthritis does, though.

Joint Injury The two most common types are both forms of inflammation. They usually result from overuse or misuse of a joint over time. Bursitis involves the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between your bones and other moving parts. Tendinitis affects the tendons that attach your muscles to your bones.

Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, such as muscles and joints. When lupus attacks the joints, symptoms include:




Lupus is often difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to other medical conditions. There is no cure and symptoms will get worse over time. Treatment focuses on treating the symptoms. Available treatments can be effective in helping people find symptom relief.

Gout  is a sudden onset arthritis that tends to affect males more often than females. Gout is a condition that develops quickly, with symptoms sometimes appearing overnight, often in the big toe.

Symptoms include:

severe pain

severe tenderness

stiff joints

swelling and increased warmth of the joint

Gout can develop in any joint. Gout will typically appear for a short period and go away. People with gout often get symptoms on and off throughout their life. Treatment focuses on reducing the severity of the symptoms and lowering levels of uric acid in the blood.


Exercise The more you move your joints, the less likely they are to get stiff. A little afternoon gardening or a walk around the block can help. You’ll strengthen the muscles that support your joints, keep your bones strong, improve your balance, and burn calories. Start slow, so you don’t get hurt. Talk to your physio first if even gentle exercise makes the stiffness worse. 

Heat Therapy If your joints are extra stiff in the morning, try a hot shower or bath. It’ll get blood flowing to the area, which loosens things up. You can also buy moist heat pads from the drugstore or make your own. Toss a washcloth into a freezer bag and microwave it for 1 minute. Wrap it in a towel and leave it on the area for 15-20 minutes.

When should I see a doctor and physio?

If pain is interfering with normal daily life activities, it is time to talk to a doctor/physio about the problem. It is important to diagnose the cause of the pain quickly and begin treatment to relieve pain and maintain healthy, functioning joints.

You should see a doctor IMMEDIATELY:

Pain is accompanied by a fever

There is unexplained weight loss (10 pounds or more)

Pain is preventing you from walking normally



If you experience chronic knee pain, injuries, or advice for knee surgery and replacement please don’t hesitate to reach out. I have treated thousands of my patients with successful results over the last 20 years of my physio services. 

BEFORE YOU SAY YES TO KNEE SURGERY REPLACEMENT- give me a ring for an assessment. 

My treatment plan is the result of my experience and knowledge in treating chronic pains and injuries over the last 20 years. This is the holistic plan to guarantee pain relief, prevent recurring pains, and faster recovery. 









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