Joint stiffness is the sensation of difficulty moving a joint or the apparent loss of range of motion of a joint. Joint stiffness often accompanies joint pain and/or swelling. Depending on the cause of joint stiffness, joint redness, tenderness, warmth, tingling, or numbness of an affected area of the body may be present. Joint stiffness can be caused by injury or disease of the joint and is a common finding in the arthritis conditions. Joint damage, including stiffness, can also occur following injury to the joint. Sometimes injuries or inflammation of the adjacent areas, such as bursae, can cause pain that may limit the movement of a joint and be perceived as joint stiffness. Joint pain is also referred to as arthralgia.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Causes of Joint Stiffness
16 Early Symptoms and Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Early RA symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA...
Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within...
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness...
A Baker's cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is swelling caused by knee joint fluid protruding to the back of the knee...
Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures)
A broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures, such as: compressed, open, stress, greenstick,...
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac found in the joints that cushions them. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, most commonly...
Connective Tissue Disease
Connective tissue disease is when the body's connective tissues come under attack, possibly becoming injured by inflammation....
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress...
Gout (Gouty Arthritis)
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and...
Hunter Syndrome (Mucopolysaccharidosis II, MPS II)
Hunter syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis II, MPS II) is an inherited or genetic disease. Signs and symptoms of Hunter syndrome...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness, which is spread by ticks when they bite the skin. Initially the disease affects the skin...
MPS I (Mucopolysaccharidosis Type I, Hurler Syndrome)
MPS I (also referred to as mucopolysaccharidosis Type I or Hurler syndrome) is a genetic, inherited condition that involves...
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also...
Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (PVNS)
Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is unusual growth of the tissue that lines the tendons in the body (synovium) and...
Plant Thorn Synovitis
Plant thorn synovitis (plant thorn arthritis) is joint inflammation caused by a thorn puncturing the joint and leaving residual...
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a disorder of the muscles and joints that causes pain and stiffness in the arms, neck, shoulders,...
Pseudogout, a form of arthritis, results when deposits of crystals collect in and around the joints. Symptoms of pseudogout...
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms include painful, stiff, and swollen joints,...
Reactive arthritis is a chronic, systemic rheumatic disease characterized by three conditions, including conjunctivitis, joint...
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints,...
Rheumatology is the study of rheumatic diseases and conditions. Rheumatologists are internal medicine physicians who treat these...
Septic arthritis, or infectious arthritis, is infection of one or more joints by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms and signs...
Sickle Cell Disease (Sickle Cell Anemia)
Sickle cell anemia (sickle cell disease), a blood disease which shortens life expectancy, is cause by an inherited abnormal...
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be...
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis. Symptoms of tennis elbow include tenderness and dull pain of the outer...
Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)
The anterior cruciate ligament helps to prevent the top and bottom of the knee from sliding back and forth. Symptoms and signs of...
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting...
Other Causes of Joint Stiffness
- Bone Tumor
- Cartilage Tear
- Synovial Sarcoma
- Trauma or Injury
Examples of Medications for Joint Stiffness
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, Bayer, Ecotrin, and others)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Over-the-Counter Products