Are you suffering from stiff joints? If you are, many people will say “Welcome to the club.” This is because stiff joints is a common symptom for many conditions from a cold or the flu to specific joint diseases. It is also extremely common for the elderly to complain of stiff joints, which are almost as predictable as needing bifocals when you turn 45. If you see an elderly person having trouble bending over, then having more trouble picking up an object from the floor, give them a hand. Those aches and pains are real.
There are two general observations about growing old that contribute to those aches and pains, including stiff joints. One is simple wear and tear on cartilage, bursa, vertebral discs and other mechanisms that help joints move. These structures allow for easy movement by providing a fluid-like cushion or a smooth surface for bones to move without having them grind together. Bursa, for example, acts like very tiny water balloons that are wedged into joints, allowing for smoother motion. Cartilage, meanwhile, covers the ends of bones where they terminate at joints, providing a smooth, resilient surface for the bones to slide on. When the cartilage wears out, it is extremely slow to heal, partly because cartilage does not have a blood supply.
The second reason behind stiff joints as you age is the lack of fluids. As we age, we become drier. While water content in our bodies is also dependent on age and weight (thinner people have less water than heavier people when we are infants, our average water content is 75 percent to 78 percent. As adults, this drops to 50 percent to 65 percent. This loss of water affects mechanisms like your vertebral discs. These compact spongy cushions become less spongy as we age. Part of the reason: They become drier.
Here are just some of the diagnosable conditions that can result in a stiff joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by pain in the wrists, fingers, hands, and feet. The immune system in this disease attacks the lining of your joints, which often creates painful swelling and stiffness.
As opposed to rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder, osteoarthritis is a wear and tear condition. As we age, the cartilage that protects the ends of our bones begins to wear out, resulting in bone against bone movement.
Bursitis is another wear and tear condition. Bursae are tiny sacks that give joints cushioned movement. However, when these become inflamed, the result is a painful condition called bursitis.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can result in painful joints, especially in the knees, wrists, and fingers. People who suffer from lupus have good days and bad days, as the pain is intermittent.
Gout, which generally starts in the joints of the big toe, is a painful condition that is grouped together with arthritis, which it resembles.
This chronic pain condition is usually associated with muscle pain, but many patients experience stiff joints, as well.
This is a joint disease that is rarely seen in people under 50. It results in stiff joints, mostly in the shoulders, neck, hips, fingers, and wrists.
Make a call
Are you or anyone you know suffering from joint stiffness? Let us help you return to an active lifestyle with minimum pain. Call FXRX Orthopaedics and Bracing in Phoenix, Az., at 480-449-FXRX.