Manage Your Arthritis Morning Stiffness

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), or osteoarthritis (OA), morning stiffness is a common symptom, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

The severity depends on your arthritis type. For OA, morning soreness lasts only a few minutes. With PsA, the symptoms can last up to 30 minutes. It’s more common—and worse—for those with RA, for whom stiffness and pain can last for one to two hours.

Whatever type of arthritis you have, you can start getting your morning stiffness under control the minute you wake up. To get your body moving, follow these tips:

  1. Apply the right temperature. To loosen stiff joints, take a warm shower or use a heating pad. If stiffness includes pain or swelling, try a cold compress or an instant ice pack to reduce inflammation.
  2. Stretch. Incorporating slow, gentle stretching into your daily routine can help with stiffness. To help with morning stiffness, start stretching while you’re still in bed. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for specific stretches.
  3. Take an anti-inflammatory. Before getting out of bed, take your RA or PsA medication or an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Give it time to kick in. Some arthritis medications (such as methotrexate) can make you drowsy, so ask your pharmacist whether this strategy makes sense for you.
  4. Focus on prevention strategies. Quit smoking. Smoking harms your joints, bones, and connective tissues, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Maintain a healthy weight to ease joint pressure. Get regular exercise to increase muscle flexibility, improve range of motion, and help with weight control.

Source: Good Neighbor Script, May 2022

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