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What Are the Treatments for Arthritis Stiffness?

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
Episodes of stiffness related to arthritis may occur after prolonged physical inactivity.
Swimming may help to alleviate the stiffness associated with arthritis.
Gentle stretching exercises may ease the pain and stiffness of arthritis.
One of the problems with arthritis is that the affected joints become stiff and painful to move.
Unfortunately, some individuals will continue to experience stiffness and pain regardless of their efforts.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2014
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One of the most frustrating effects of arthritis is arthritis stiffness, which commonly occurs after the joints affected by arthritis have not moved for long periods of time. Arthritis sufferers often experience arthritis stiffness after sleeping or long periods of sitting, and many people have found ways to counteract stiffness after these periods by timing when they take medications that alleviate stiffness. Other sufferers of arthritis stiffness participate in regular stretching and exercise regimens that keep the pain and stiffness at bay. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, and an arthritis sufferer is likely to experience pain and stiffness regardless of most efforts.

Stretching and exercise can go a long way toward preventing arthritis stiffness, especially if the stretching is done shortly before bed. This will help prevent stiffness in the morning, at least to some degree. A regular routine of stretching and exercise will work toward alleviating stiffness in the long term, but arthritis sufferers should be sure to do light exercise only, as more intense exercise may worsen arthritis conditions. It is best to consult a doctor or a professional trainer before designing an exercise program, as these professionals can help determine what exercises will help and which ones will do harm.

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When sitting in a chair for a long period of time, such as while watching television, arthritis stiffness is likely to develop and changing positions occasionally can help prevent or alleviate such stiffness. Using the joints periodically will help keep stiffness at bay, and getting up out of the chair every so often will also encourage the joints to move freely and without pain. Rolling one's head side to side while sitting, moving the arms, bending the legs, and shifting from one side to the other every so often will help keep joints from stiffening while sitting.

Weight control is an important step in preventing arthritis stiffness, as obesity is likely to exacerbate many of the symptoms of arthritis. It helps to eat a healthy diet that will encourage weight loss or weight control; certain foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that can help relieve some arthritis symptoms as well. It may be worthwhile to visit a dietitian who can help the arthritis sufferer develop a healthy diet geared toward alleviating stiffness and pain due to arthritis. Physical activity is another important way to stave off obesity and ensure joint health, though again, one should be sure not to overdo it, as intense exercise can exacerbate arthritis symptoms.

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