joint stiffness in the morning

I think the times when dealing with arthritis hits me the most is when I have joint stiffness so early in the morning that it seems it would waste my entire day.

That moment comes with a barrage of negative thoughts and energy, making it easy to lie in bed and do nothing! But that’s just what your arthritis wants.

Joint stiffness in the morning is a normal phenomenon when living with arthritis, but there are proven ways to prevent and deal with this morning stiffness.

You need to move, especially with rheumatoid arthritis, so lying on the bed will only worsen the aches, stiffness, and pain.

This blog post will show you what to do and how to reduce future occurrences of joint stiffness in the morning.

What is joint stiffness?

Joint stiffness is a condition common among people living with arthritis. It is characterized by difficulty in moving due to stiffness in the joint cavities. The joints are stiff, which makes it hard to move.

How long does it last?

Usually, joint stiffness is resolved within 20 minutes. Still, arthritis-related joint stiffness can take up to several hours and even the whole day, depending on the type of arthritis and the progression of the disease.

Osteoarthritis joint stiffness can last for an hour or a little more, while rheumatoid arthritis joint stiffness can last for the whole day if left unchecked, and sometimes, even after a lot of effort, nothing much happens.

Why does arthritis cause joint stiffness?

Everyone experiences joint stiffness sometimes, and all it might take is a good stretch or a cup of coffee, but it is different with arthritis. Arthritis-related joint stiffness can last for several hours and is usually more severe than normal joint stiffness. 

Arthritis is caused by an inflammatory response by the body’s immune system. The immune system tends to be more active at night and early mornings, which means that the body’s inflammatory response is more aggressive in these periods.

Inflammatory response during these periods causes the inflammatory cells and proteins to settle and accumulate in the joint cavities, which causes the severity of joint pain and stiffness in the morning.

Another reason is that due to the lack of movement at night,  the joints swell when they become inflamed, and this swelling causes the surrounding tissues to tighten up, resulting in stiffness.

 joint stiffness in the morning

Ways to deal with joint stiffness in the morning

Here are some ways to deal with joint stiffness in the morning:

1. Plan for the day

Always have a plan for the day. It saves you a lot of mental stress trying to think of your daily activities and how to manage arthritis. It helps prepare for morning stiffness and have all the necessary things within your reach.

2. Take your medications ASAP

Once you wake up, taking your medications before any other thing is best. Your medications will help fight the inflammation in your joints. It is advisable to keep your medicines beside you and a water jug so you don’t need to get out of bed before taking them.

3. Use a heated mattress pad

Although this is more of a preventive measure, you can also do this when you experience joint stiffness in the morning. Assuming you wake up with joint stiffness and notice that you forgot to switch on the heat, you can switch it on and spend some minutes in bed before getting out or until the stiffness loosens completely. The heat helps to increase blood flow to the affected joint and reduce stiffness.

4. Take a hot shower

A warm bath or a hot shower can make a huge difference, even if you must drag yourself from the bed. The heat helps to loosen up your joints, and what better way than to have a long soak in a bath.

5. Use joint braces and heat pads

Heat therapy is always effective for joint stiffness in the morning. Using specially designed joint braces and heat pads, you must protect your joints and loosen them to avoid joint stiffness.

6. Wear heated clothes.

If you must go out, heat your clothes in the dryer and wear them. It gives your entire body length a bit of heat to help lessen the stiffness.

7. Try stretching exercises before getting up

While in the comfort of your heated mattress and blankets, you might want to try some gentle stretching exercises on your upper and lower limbs, including your fingers and ankles. This helps to loosen up your joints and increase lubrication in your joint cavities.

8. Apply topical joint creams

Applying topical creams to the affected joints is also effective in combating inflammation and loosening joint stiffness. These creams can reduce joint swelling and pain.

9. Take all the rest you need

If you need to stay in bed, then you should. You can assign your task to someone else or call in sick to work. If joint stiffness is something you constantly experience, you should try to schedule most of your tasks for later in the day.

10. Do some light exercises

In addition to stretching exercises, you should try some light exercises for the knees and hips and some hand exercises. These exercises help to loosen the stiffness.

11. Use ergonomic and adaptive tools

Ergonomic tools are used for constant repetitive movements with minimal risk of injury. These tools will help reduce the stress on your joints and make your mornings more bearable.

In dealing with arthritis and reducing symptoms, it is always best to use adaptive devices that prevent you from straining your joints.

RA Warrior Fitness Wrist Straps

How to prevent or reduce joint stiffness in the morning

These are tips you can do before sleeping or as part of your daily habits to prevent the occurrence or reduce the severity of joint stiffness and pain.

1. Use your medications

Do not skip your medications because they contain the things that can help you fight these inflammatory responses.

2. Get enough sleep but not too much

Getting enough sleep is crucial because you need your body to always be at full attention when you need to fight. However, you want to be careful not to oversleep because too much sleep can worsen the stiffness you might feel.

Stiffness occurs because of a lack of movement; if you do not move your joints for an extended period, it might result in worse joint stiffness.

3. Eat anti-inflammatory diets

Anti-inflammatory diets have properties that help to fight inflammation, and they reduce the severity of the stiffness experienced.

4. Use your supplements

You should constantly take your herbal supplements, vitamins, and any other supplement you use to manage your symptoms. They all help fight the disease and, therefore, can also prevent joint stiffness in the morning.

5. Have a flexible work schedule

A flexible work schedule will help you to avoid stress which can cause a sudden flare-up and aggravate joint stiffness.

6. Be active

Regularly exercising is also an excellent way to prevent joint stiffness in the mornings. Having a habit of exercising will reduce the severity and occurrence of most arthritis symptoms.

7. Track your symptoms

If you track symptoms of your arthritis, you can discover patterns that show you what lessens and aggravates your symptoms, helping you make better health management decisions.

8. Exercise before bed

As part of your daily routine, exercise before bed because it helps keep your joints lubricated enough and reduces the frequency and severity of joint stiffness.

9. Protect your joints

Always protect your joints with heated pads, even when sleeping. Heat therapy is one of the best ways to prevent and deal with joint stiffness.

 joint stiffness in the morning

Final Thoughts

You can’t avoid joint stiffness entirely, but you can find a way to live with it. If you want to rise above rheumatism and regain control of your daily life, then you must be committed to constantly learning new ways to deal with those symptoms.

Preventing joint stiffness in the morning is more about finding ways to reduce the number of times you wake up with joint stiffness and lessen the severity of the disease. You may not be completely free from morning stiffness, but if you constantly practice these preventive tips, you can enjoy life to its fullest.

You’ve got this, and I am so rooting for you.

How do you deal with joint stiffness in the morning? Do you have some tips to share?

READ ALSO: Rheumatoid arthritis in hands | exercises, symptoms, and more


  1. Thank you for these articles! Working out at night is genius to get a better night’s sleep and to reduce joint stiffness!

    1. You’re very welcome, T Ann! Thank you for your feedback! Yes, working out at night gives your body time to be at it’s best when you begin physical activity and helps you rest better. Let me know how it works for you!

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