Conditions that cause morning joint stiffness   

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Various diseases can cause morning joint stiffness including headaches, arthritis, bone disease, fibromyalgia and even cancer. Overuse of a joint or trauma also contributes to morning joint stiffness. It is important to note that the stiffness might be worse in the morning after a night of physical inactivity or certain medications have worn off. This is usually the case for individuals who have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammatory diseases

The doctor will ask the individual with rheumatoid arthritis if he/she experiences morning joint stiffness, how long it lasts and the severity. The doctor often evaluates the duration, severity and location of morning joint stiffness in order to check the status of the disease. Any improvements indicate that a particular medication is working well and if increased stiffness occurs, it can indicate a flare-up. The joints typically affected by stiffness include the shoulders, hips, wrists, knuckles and knees.

Another inflammatory joint disease that causes morning joint stiffness and pain due to loosening of the ligaments at night is ankylosing spondylitis. Once the individual moves around, the ligaments become tight and generally feel better.

It is important to note that the stiffness might be worse in the morning after a night of physical inactivity or certain medications have worn off.

Fibromyalgia and headaches

It is important to note that fibromyalgia is a syndrome that triggers widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles. Morning joint stiffness is a usual symptom and can be severe that it is hard for the individual to get out of bed. Even though this condition is not an inflammatory disease, it is strikingly similar to stiffness due to inactivity and accumulation of fluid in the joints. The stiffness typically improves with activity.

When it comes to severe headaches, they can cause morning joint stiffness particularly in the neck area. The headaches are symptoms that occur along with various conditions including fibromyalgia, heart disease, Lyme’s disease, thyroid dysfunction and liver disease.

Bone diseases

There are bone diseases that can cause morning joint stiffness such as sickle cell arthritis and aseptic necrosis. For aseptic necrosis, it commonly affects the leg and hip bones. The supply of blood to the bone is reduced, resulting to pain, diminished range of motion and eventually bone death. As for sickle cell anemia, it is a blood condition characterized by the sickle-shaped cell. This condition can cause sickle cell arthritis that causes acute or chronic pain as well as stiffness.


Cancer usually involves abnormal cell growth that might invade the blood vessels and spread to different parts of the body. There are certain forms of cancer that can trigger morning joint stiffness.

Breast cancer is known to cause swelling and rigidity around the shoulder and arm that adds up to the weakness and pain.  The cancers that involve the head and neck can contribute to posture changes as well as limitation in reaching and stiffness. The treatment options such as surgery and radiation can contribute to the stiffness as well.

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