Almost every day I get asked the same questions: ‘Why is my back so stiff when I wake up?’, ‘Why do I need a hot shower to loosen me off first thing?’, 'Why do my joints feels stiff in a morning?'. There are several different causes for joints feeling stiff on a morning. Here I will discuss the most common cause I see in the clinic.
Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear / degenerative type arthritis…everybody gets it eventually, but it affects people in varying degrees.
Osteoarthritic joints are commonly sore, stiff and painful, especially after prolonged rest ie. on a morning. Once they have got moving or are used they tend to ‘loosen up’. Why??
A joint is made up by the ends of 2 bones. The end of each bone is covered by a thin lining of cartilage. The lining of cartilage at the ends of the bones can start to wear thin or degenerate, this then becomes an osteoarthritic joint. There is fluid within the joint which helps to lubricate it.
With rest the joint fluid is soaked up by the cartilage within the joint. This is similar to how a sponge soaks up water. When the joint is used, the cartilage is ‘squeezed’ and the joint fluid bathes the joint to help lubricate it. The more the joint is used the more the fluid coats and lubricates the inner joint.
In a non-arthritic joint, this process happens quickly and efficiently. However in an arthritic joint, there is less cartilage and less joint fluid. As a result, the process of lubricating the joint isn’t as efficient or effective. It will take longer for an osteoarthritic joint to ‘warm up’ and to feel less stiff, hence the morning stiffness.
Doing simple range of movement / stretching exercises first thing on a morning can help to reduce the stiffness quicker. Helpful advice and exercises can help to ease the pain and stiffness felt on a morning. Contact: 07736 225 177 for more info.