When it comes to Rheumatoid Arthritis, many experience more stiffness and pain in the mornings, Morning stiffness can make your joints feel slow and difficult. It can be so bad in fact that getting out of bed is a herculean task.
What Causes RA Morning Stiffness?
Unfortunately, doctors are still unsure of what the exact cause is when it comes to morning stiffness with rheumatoid arthritis. However, it could be possible that your body’s natural rhythms are adding to the stiffness.
During the night our bodies relax and we move about less. When you sleep, your body increases its production of specific hormones (cytokine and antibody production) and these hormones can trigger swelling that lead to the dreaded stiff joints.
How Long Can Stiffness Last?
We’re sorry to say that this isn’t a clear cut answer. Everyone is different and your body could react completely differently to the next person. When it comes to narrowing down a specific time for how long the stiff joint pain can last, it really depends. For some it can last a few hours where as with others, it could be with you all day.
How to Manage Morning Stiffness With RA
Slow & Steady
There is a reason why we have always heard ”slow and steady wins the race”. There are no heroes with arthritis, you can’t ignore the pain and fatigue. Jumping out of bed and diving into the day won’t help you. It’s important to start the day right.
Before you get out of bed, try moving the joints that are stiff slowly and gently, making sure not to pull or stretch. Making gentle circular motions and bending will help.
Before you start to stretch out specific joints later, slowly move all of your joints (this will help improve mobility all over the body). Here’s a list of joints to slowly get moving:
Stretch it Out
Depending on where it is that you have stiffness and pain, it is recommended that you stretch those targeted areas while you are still in bed.
Here’s a guide:
- Find the source and stretch the affected joint
- 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 personalized exercise and stretch plan.
A Good Soak
If you are anything like me, a good soak can help you through anything.
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. Its a great way to ease into your day
Of course if you have a busy day ahead, heat can help too so even an electric blanker during the night can help keep you ease the pain and stiffness.
Getting Your Heart Pumping
It’s good to get the heart pumping, it will help ease the symptoms. Try some rang-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 personalized plan will help.
Helpful Kitchen Aids
We may be biased because we love our Uccello Kettle. However, it was specifically designed to help those with arthritis enjoy a cuppa with no pain every time.
After your stretches and exercise, another great way to kick off the day is with a soothing cup of tea.