7 Tips to Deal with the Morning Stiffness Associated with Arthritis

Stiffness is one of the most common complaint of arthritis, a disease resulting in inflamed joints leading to pain and reduced joint movements.  This stiffness is usually worse in the mornings, so much so that moving the joints becomes a tiresome and painful task when one wakes up. Hence, it is rightly categorized as morning stiffness.

Most people with arthritic joints battle morning stiffness every day. Unfortunately, waking up to stiff joints is tough, especially when accompanied by joint pains and soreness. Fortunately, a few simple measures can combat your stiff morning woes easily.

Here’s a list of simple ways to wake up to less stiff joints and a perkier day:

  • Exercise:

    Regular exercise is essential in reducing pain and stiffness of the arthritic joints. Yes that’s right, for as disagreeable as it may sound to exercise your painful joints, it actually plays an all-important role in relieving arthritis and its symptoms. Arthritis makes the joints stiff by reducing their mobility, weakening joint tissue, and reducing joint fluid. On the other hand, a correctly sketched-out exercise plan strengthens muscles and increases joint flexibility to relieve stiffness. In fact, a 1997 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that aerobic and resistance exercises can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Even some brisk walking for as little as fifteen minutes daily can go a long way in reducing morning stiffness. All said and done, enlist the help of a physical therapist to chart out the most suitable exercise plan for your arthritic joints.  You will also want to determine the best time to exercise, depending on your symptoms and possible fatigue levels.

  • Stretching:

    Stretch your joints first thing in the morning when you wake up. Slowly move your joints a few times while lying flat on your bed and then do the same sitting up, followed by a few stretches while you stand. This should help loosen your stiff joints by increasing blood circulation around them.

  • Fish oils:

    A 1995 study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology showed that the intake of fish oils for just three months is expected to reduce morning stiffness and joint pains drastically. Fish oils are superlative sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient known for its pain and swelling-reducing properties. Your body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids directly, so it’s a good idea to get this nutrient through fish oil supplements or by consuming fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring that are rich in fish oils. Your body gets just about 1 gram of fish oils out of 3 ½ ounces of most fish.

  • High-Fiber Diet:

    The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2009 stating that a diet high in fiber and unsaturated fats can reduce inflammation by lowering the C – reactive proteins in the body. Lower inflammation could mean lesser pain and morning stiffness. Ideally, you need to have nearly 25-30 grams of fiber daily. While fruits, nuts, and green leafy vegetables are some good sources of fiber, you can get unsaturated fats from walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, olive oil, and fish.

  • Magnesium:

    Studies have shown that magnesium helps reduce C-reactive protein to counter inflammation, in addition to maintaining joint cartilage. Hence, consuming more magnesium-rich foods in your diet like green peas, legumes, almonds, soya beans and hazelnuts is likely to help with morning stiffness as well. Another way of using magnesium to your benefit would be to rub some magnesium oil over the stiff and painful joints.

  • Hot packs:

    Heat improves blood circulation to relieve pain and stiffness. Applying a hot pack on the affected joints in the morning or taking a hot shower is recommended to reduce joint pain. Once the pain is less, moving the joints gets easier. The only time you don’t want to use heat, however, is when you are experiencing inflammation (recognized by redness, swelling, and warmth) of your joints.

  • Avoid cold air:

    Cold air often aggravates joint pains and stiffness. Cover yourself with appropriate warm clothes and blankets when you sleep during the winters. Also, close any doors or windows that may let in cold air at night.