When it comes to living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most common symptom is morning stiffness. Morning stiffness can make your joints feel slow and difficult, which can make getting out of bed a herculean task.
The reason for this is that at night, when you sleep, your body releases anti-inflammatory chemicals to help calm any joint pain and stiffness. Sadly, come the morning, your body is no longer able to fight off the chemicals that cause inflammation so you wake up with stiff and painful joints.
How Long Does Morning Stiffness Last?
Sadly this isn’t a clear cut answer. The symptoms that are experienced when living with arthritis vary from person to person. There are some rheumatologists that consider any morning stiffness that lasts at least an hour is a key sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
Of course, for some it can indeed last an hour and for others it could be all day. Everyone’s case is unique.
Dealing with Morning Stiffness
Below are a few tried and tested tips to help you manage morning stiffness. Of course if you have any other tips, please feel free to comment below.
Take Your Time
There is method to the madness of ‘slow and steady wins the race‘. Trying to ignore your symptoms or your arthritis in general will do you no good. Jumping out of bed and diving into the day will do more harm then good. Talk your time, start your day right. You’ll be happy you did.
Before getting out of bed, why not try slow and gentle joint movements. This is where you make gentle circular motions around each joint socket. Make sure not to pull, stretch or over do it. You’ve just woken up, it should be gentle.
Think of this as your warm up for the day. Like an athlete warms up for a game or a race. You are doing the same for your joints. Doing this will help with stiffness, pain and mobility.
Here’s a quick list to check off each morning:
Make a Stretch
Where ever it is you have your stiffness and pain, it is a good idea to stretch that particular problem area out while you are sill in bed. Here’s our guide. Remember, this shouldn’t be painful. If it is, Stop!
- Find the source and stretch the affected joint. For example: back, neck, shoulders, legs etc.
- Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds – you need to repeat this 2-3 times before moving on
- Make sure to this slowly and don’t overstretch. Remember, stretching should never be painful
If you are unsure, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to help and guide you towards a personalised exercise and stretch plan.
Hot & Steamy
Sometimes, there just isn’t anything like a good bath. Especially to start your day. For me, I always feel more awake and energised.
Having a soak before you start your day can help you ease pain and loosen up your joints. Not to mention you feel fresh and ready for the day. The warm water will help to release and relax joints, ultimately helping ease morning stiffness.
Of course if you have a busy day ahead, heat can help too so even an electric blanket during the night can help you ease the pain and stiffness.
Get The Blood Flowing
It’s good to get the heart pumping, it will help ease the symptoms. Try some range-of-motion exercises. This involves moving your joints as far as possible in different directions. Doing this for as little as 5-10 minutes can help.
A great idea is to pedal on a stationary bike and can help loosen stiff joints in the morning. If you are unsure, talking to your doctor or an occupational therapist to come up with a personalised plan will help.
Helpful Kitchen Aids
We may be biased because we love our Uccello Kettle and our Grip Mat. The two go hand in hand to help make life safer and easier in the kitchen. Especially for those living with arthritis who suffer with morning stiffness. After your stretches and exercise, another great way to kick off the day is with a soothing cup of tea.