Morning Stiffness From Arthritis?
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Morning stiffness is common in people with arthritis. When it is severe, you may feel like you can hardly walk when you get up in the morning. Sometimes, it can even happen if you are being treated for arthritis. It can affect those with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis due to various factors.
Causes of Morning Stiffness
Morning stiffness is common in different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and osteoarthritis (OA). The symptoms of morning stiffness can vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. For example:
One possible cause of morning stiffness is called the gel phenomenon. In your joints, there is a liquid called synovial fluid. When your joints are not moving, the fluid can get thick and “gel-like.” The gelling makes it harder for the joints to move easily. However, once you start moving again, the fluid will return to its normal liquid state. The gel phenomenon is one reason people with OA may feel stiff after inactivity.
Some researchers think morning stiffness could be related to hormone fluctuations in the body over a 24-hour cycle. It is believed that some conditions make a person have low nighttime levels of the hormone cortisol. Having low cortisol overnight leaves your body unable to tamp down cells called pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6). Since the inflammation is not under control while you sleep, you wake up with extra inflammation. More inflammation contributes to arthritis symptoms like pain and morning stiffness, particularly for people with an inflammatory form of arthritis. Your cortisol levels tend to be highest (peak) in the morning. As the day goes on and the levels and inflammation decrease, your arthritis symptoms may gradually improve.
Role of Obesity
There are a few ways that obesity is linked to arthritis, mainly “wear and tear” OA.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 Americans with obesity has been diagnosed with arthritis compared to 1 in 5 people in the general population.
Carrying extra weight stresses your joints, especially your hips and knees. It can also make the weakening and damage of cartilage in joints (degeneration) move faster. There is also some evidence that obesity is linked to inflammation in the body, and inflammation is linked to arthritis. If you are obese, you may notice stiffness in your joints in the morning and throughout the day. If you can lose weight and maintain a weight that supports your health, it could help with your arthritis symptoms.
Role of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone and joint health and is an important nutritional aspect of caring for these body parts. That said, being deficient in vitamin D can cause joint pain and stiffness in the morning, even in people who do not have arthritis. For people who do have forms of arthritis, vitamin D might play a role in helping them manage the disease.
Does Low Vitamin D Cause RA?
Some studies have shown that people with RA often have low vitamin D levels, but researchers are unsure of the relationship. Rather than vitamin deficiencies causing RA, it could be that people with RA commonly have nutritional deficiencies.
Dealing With Morning Stiffness
You might be able to manage morning stiffness with medication or changes in your daily routines or lifestyle habits. You can also talk to your provider about specific treatments that might help, depending on the type of arthritis you have.
For example, a prescription drug called Rayos is a delayed-release form of a corticosteroid called prednisone, a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. Rayos can help with morning stiffness because it is usually taken around 10 p.m., and the medication gets released about four hours later (considered the best time to suppress IL-6).
You can also cope with morning stiffness from arthritis by:
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