Under the term stiff joints respectively Joint stiffness Doctors understand a stiffening of joints, which leads to a restriction of movement. This can have various causes and accordingly also appear differently. Under certain circumstances, illnesses can lead to irreparable stiffening of the affected joints, which makes an operation necessary.
Stiff joints, also known as joint stiffness, describe restricted mobility in the joints.
Stiff joints, also known as joint stiffness, describe restricted mobility in the joints. Almost all joints in the human body can be affected.
Often, however, the finger, knee and elbow joints in particular show the typical symptoms. Joint stiffness can occur acutely (for example as a result of an accident) or chronically (as part of an illness). Depending on the cause and / or stage of the disease, its severity ranges from a slight restriction in movement to complete inability to move.
A distinction is made between two types of joint stiffness: In the so-called contracture, the joint remains undamaged; The ligaments, muscles or tendons are responsible for the symptoms. In ankylosis, on the other hand, the joints themselves or the bones are damaged.
Depending on the cause and stage of the stiff joints, appropriate therapy can often achieve a very good result.
The causes of stiff joints can be very different. For example, an injury as a result of an accident can suddenly stiffen one or more affected joints.
If a patient is bedridden due to illness or an accident, joint stiffness is often the result of a lack of movement. Even after wearing a plaster cast, the affected joints are usually temporarily stiffened. A shortening of the tendons, ligaments or muscles may also be responsible for stiff joints.
Skin adhesions or scarring can also sometimes result in joint stiffness. Certain diseases affect the joints themselves, such as gout or osteoarthritis. The latter often occurs at an advanced age and is therefore a common sign of wear and tear.
Stiff joints can usually already be diagnosed on the basis of the patient's description and often obvious restrictions on movement. Finding the cause is therefore more important than determining the symptoms.
In order to determine why the joint stiffened, x-rays can be made, for example, which provide information about possible changes and / or damage to the joints or bones. Other imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or arthroscopy (joint reflection) can also help in making the diagnosis.
The course of a joint stiffness depends largely on the cause of the symptoms. While a temporary stiffness often improves on its own by wearing a cast, it can be permanent as a result of some illnesses and thus significantly impair the patient's mobility.
Stiff joints usually arise as part of rheumatic diseases, which can have various complications. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, affects the joints and progressively destroys them, resulting in immobility and deformities of the joints. In addition to the joints, this autoimmune disease also affects other organs.
These include, for example, the heart and kidneys. Both organs become inflamed, which can eventually end in cardiac insufficiency or kidney weakness (renal insufficiency). It is not uncommon for the lungs to be affected. Furthermore, ulcers can develop in the organs.
A greater susceptibility to other diseases is also typical of rheumatism. These include, for example, cardiovascular diseases and simple infectious diseases. Wear and tear of the joint cartilage (osteoarthritis) also leads to inflammation of the joint due to the abrasion of cartilage cells.
The joint also swells up a lot and hurts. It can also expose the bone, which can break down and cause additional pain. Similarly, gout causes an inflammatory reaction in the joints, which can swell and cause pain.
In general, a stiffness of the joints leads to an impairment of the quality of life. Affected people can no longer carry out their everyday life and work carefree. This can lead to depression, which in the worst case scenario can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Stiff joints are mostly caused by weakness or a rheumatic disease. If the symptoms subside within a few hours, no visit to the doctor is necessary. Stiffening as a result of cold or increased stress are usually also harmless. A doctor should be consulted if the stiffening occurs spontaneously and for no clear cause. Anyone who notices stiffness after intense exercise or strength exercise may have overloaded the joints.
The family doctor or a sports doctor can clarify the cause beyond doubt and initiate the appropriate treatment immediately. Sporadic stiff joints indicate a chronic disease of the muscles or bones that requires rapid treatment. Otherwise complications and other complaints such as pain or loss of strength can occur.
A visit to the doctor is recommended at the latest when the stiffening spreads to other joints and is associated with symptoms of paralysis or sensitivity disorders. Stress-related stiffness can be discussed with a therapist. Medical advice is needed if the symptoms persist over a longer period of time or if they generally lead to a deterioration in wellbeing.
Therapy for stiff joints depends on the individual cause. If the symptoms occurred as a result of a longer period of rest, for example after an accident, they can often be eliminated within a short time with the help of physiotherapy exercises.
Even if the joints become stiff due to problems with the tendons or ligaments, physiotherapy that is precisely tailored to the clinical picture of the individual can often achieve good results. In addition, massages and heat applications as well as targeted stretching can take place in order to achieve an improvement in joint stiffness and restore mobility in full or in part.
If the joint stiffness is associated with pain, the administration of painkillers can alleviate it. If, on the other hand, the stiffening of the joints is irreparable, usually only a surgical intervention will help. This can either try to increase the mobility of your own joint, or alternatively an artificial joint can be used if no improvement can be achieved in the existing natural joint.
Stiff joints are initially noticeable on a small scale. If the symptoms occur repeatedly and are ignored, it can lead to a lack of movement, severe pain and inflammatory swelling in the body. Due to the relieving posture adopted, an abnormal position of the joints occurs. In case of hardship, there is a loss of function and, depending on the course of the disease, joint deformation. If the symptom is not treated medically, the function of the heart and kidneys can be impaired. Further stiffening is prevented by means of a therapy plan.
Every type of joint stiffness should be examined by the doctor so that relief measures can be initiated in good time. Manual therapy helps keep the musculoskeletal system supple. Depending on the diagnosis, medication is prescribed to aid the healing process.
If the joint stiffness is a cause of muscle weakness or a chronic illness, permanent muscle training must be completed to relieve the pain. Drugs alone in this case cannot eliminate the symptom. Surgical intervention is sometimes recommended, followed by a stay in rehabilitation and, in the longer term, further manual therapies. Anyone who does gentle sport such as Swimming maintains its quality of life and mobility.
Stiff joints can be prevented under certain circumstances by regularly providing adequate exercise for people who have mobility impairments due to illness or injuries. In this way, permanent and painful stiffening can be prevented before they occur. A reduction in excess weight, which is a risk factor for joint stiffness, can also have a preventive effect against the unpleasant symptoms.
With increasing age, the synovial fluid decreases and the joints become stiff. Anyone who is affected by arthritic joint diseases can do a lot to improve the clinical picture. Movement is very important despite the pain. Constantly relieving stress on joints is not recommended.
Older women in particular suffer from osteoarthritis of the hand. The thumb saddle joint is most affected. Depending on the type, warm or cold compresses can help reduce inflammation. Warm hand baths with rapeseed oil also reduce stiffness. All exercises that involve making a fist and opening it again are useful. Coriander oil massages can go a long way. They promote mobility by stimulating blood flow and activating nerves. Coriander tea supports the effect.
Pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drugs are useful if the patient can move the joints better. The knee and hip joints should also keep moving. Sitting and lying down for long periods of time is counterproductive. Long walks bring relief because they break down deposits in the joints and, thanks to better blood circulation, provide them with more nutrients.
One-sided loads are to be avoided. Anyone who has pain in their shoulders should take as many breaks as possible from their desk work. Small mobility exercises such as circling the shoulders forwards and backwards or circling the head help against joint stiffness and prevent premature wear and tear.