Why Are My Joints So Stiff and Sore?

Nov 16, 2021

Why Are My Joints So Stiff and SoreThere are over 360 joints in the human body, everywhere from your fingers to your toes. Each of these joints is a complex combination of muscle and bone that facilitates movement. When they feel painful or stiff, it can make it hard to do everyday activities like walk, stand, type, or use the phone, over time leading to a negative impact on your quality of life. This can happen for a number of reasons, both due to age and due to medical conditions, and may leave you looking for answers from an orthopedic doctor in Lithia Springs.

Causes of Joint Stiffness

Many people will experience stiff joints as they age, with no other conditions at play. Simple wear and tear over the year can weaken joints and muscles, making them difficult to move, especially after long periods of inactivity like sleeping. Most people experience the stiffness temporarily in the morning, while others have it more chronically. Stiffness can also be accompanied by pain and inflammation that make putting weight on the joints painful.
However, age is not the only cause of stiff joints. A range of conditions can also be the cause of these symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The most common cause of joint pain is arthritis, which can come in many forms, with one of the most prevalent being rheumatoid arthritis. RA is both an inflammatory disorder and an autoimmune disease, in which your immune system attacks healthy portions of your body, including the lining in joints. This leads to inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the short term, and it can have long-term impacts like joint deformity and erosion of the bones.

There is no cure for RA, though it can be managed, and progress can be slowed if treatment is begun before it is advanced.

Osteoarthritis

Another common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative arthritis, which is most common in people over 65. This results from wear and tear on the joints, as cartilage is meant to protect your bones thins with use and eventually stops protecting the bones. While osteoarthritis can happen in any joint, it is most common in larger joints like the knee, hip, and elbow.

In addition to stiffness, people with osteoarthritis will notice pain, swelling, cracking sounds during movement, and even being more prone to bone breaks. Some lost cartilage can be replaced, and lifestyle treatments can reduce symptoms, but there is no cure for osteoarthritis, and many people eventually have joint replacement surgeries.

Lupus

Lupus is also an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks organs and tissues, leading to joint problems. It is often difficult to diagnose Lupus as the symptoms mimic other conditions, and it is also a lifelong disorder.

Bursitis

The bones, ligaments, and muscles in your joints are cushioned by tiny fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When these sacs are inflamed, it can become a condition called bursitis, which leads to stiffness and pain. Bursitis is most commonly found in the elbow, hip, and shoulder, and it can be healed with rest over the course of a few weeks.

Other causes may include gout, a form of arthritis, or bone cancer. Hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and polymyalgia are also all conditions that may contribute to joint pain.

Treating Joint Pain and Stiffness

Finding relief for joint pain and stiffness will rely on proper diagnosis by an orthopedic doctor in Lithia Springs. Once the root cause of your symptoms is determined, a treatment plan can be developed to address the cause and manage symptoms moving forward.

For mild symptoms, you may be able to find relief at home through hot and cold compresses, over-the-counter pain medication in moderation, and gentle movement. If this does not eliminate your pain and stiffness, visiting a doctor will be an important first step in reducing pain and, most importantly, preventing a worsening of the joint’s condition over time.

Depending on the cause of your pain, a doctor may recommend physical therapy or steroid shots as conservative methods of treatment before looking into more invasive options like surgery.

If you are experiencing even mild joint pain or stiffness, visiting a doctor early on can help you understand the best way to maintain mobility and relieve pain. They can give you options of top treatments for chronic joint pain. Contact AICA Lithia Springs today to schedule your first consultation with our team. In addition to identifying the cause of your pain, our orthopedic doctors work with a range of other specialists to create personalized treatment plans for you.

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