"Morning" stiffness

Is it just me who tends not to get morning stiffness? When my RA is bad, it's "all bleedin' day" stiffness. I remember when I was in the process of being diagnosed, feeling quite confused when they asked if my morning stiffness lasted a while because it never seemed to ease. Nowadays, I have a better grip on the disease and I do have morning stiffness and it does improve as I get going (as long as I neck enough naproxen and co-codamol the minute I get out of bed). At the moment, I'm mid flare and I have that tight, cement feeling all day again. "Morning" stiffness, indeed!!

25 Replies

  • Good post! I've never had 'morning stiffness' either .... except for walking like Mrs Overall when I first get out of bed & that's gone by the time I reach the bottom of the stairs or, at worst, the kettle. I have had extensive stiffness & stiffness just in certain joints, but like you I've found it to be a problem around the clock when it's bad. So yep, I too think it's a case of all or (almost) nothing.

  • Hi

    This is interesting to me too as I don't get morning stiffness and have never had it even when I was at my worst, but still I get asked about it at every appointment. Almost feel like I should make something up to keep them happy. Just shows how different this condition is for everyone.

  • When I'm bad it lasts all day for me too.

  • Yes - it can vary from almost gone by the time I get downstairs for a cuppa, to stiffness that comes & goes during the day to the terrible stuff that stays around all day.

    Doctors! What do they know? ;P

  • I suspect morning stiffness (that relieves on moving around or gentle exercise) is more of a classical feature of spondyloarthritis (its part of diagnostic criteria), whereas all day joint stiffness is more likely with uncontrolled or flaring RA.

  • I've got PsA though. It's a case of how much moving around is required .... I'm stiff after sitting still for 20 minutes sometimes but I can shake it off so quickly, just as happens in the morning now that the disease is well-controlled.

  • Same here! A long time in the car or sitting in one position usually makes me feel pretty stiff when I am finally able to shift positions. I had a personal trainer who said "when you rest, you rust" and I think our RA joints are a bit like that (of course, conversely, I don't exercise a flared up joint as I find it can exacerbate the pain and swelling).

  • A couple of years ago I went to the cinema with my husband and son. The film was Saving Private Ryan. I found it so compelling I didn't move at all. At the end of the film it took both of them to get me down the stairs and out of the cinema. So, no, my stiffness is not just a morning thing.

  • Agreed.

  • I never understood "morning stiffness" either. I am in various states of pain all day. Sometimes the pain is shooting through my finger, and then it jumps to my knee, wrist or another joint.

    Take care


  • I've never had morning stiffness either. I usually get stiff in the evenings, so I've learned to take my meds at lunch time so they last through the evening.

    I have been flaring now for a couple of weeks so I have been stiff & swollen for awhile. Saw a PA yesterday needing a cortisone shot in my thumb but she wouldn't do it, she wants me on a prednisone burst. I was on one a month ago when my knee & elbow swelled up. I don't usually swell, I just have pain & stiffness-so this is weird.


  • I have never been offered a cortisone shot. It sucks when I hear others respond so well to them. I had a finger I couldn't straighten for years. It's not in flare anymore, but still won't straighten entirely. No shots for me. I wonder if there are some long term effects they are worried about?

  • Good question.

    I'm interested to read this because I'm still undiagnosed. One of the reasons, along with clear blood tests and X-ray, was my answer to this question apparently means Ive not got any inflammation.

    I too have all day variable stiffness and pain especially in my hands which is worse some days than others but it never goes. It came on suddenly over a year ago when I turned 40 and has now spread to other joints in my body. The only thing that helped me was the steroid injection but it's worn off now.

    When I was asked about morning stiffness I tried to explain this but was asked again as if I didn't understand the question. I repeated the same answer and the consultant looked puzzled.

  • Mines all day or most of the day :( butnit got a dx yet. Still having tests.

  • I think it is a sign of a rigid mind in the rheumatologist, trying to put us in the category of "morning stiffness more than 3 hours = RA" or "morning stiffness short = OA".

    Some of my morning stiffness goes quite quickly after I have been moving about for a short while and doing my morning stretching exercises, the other stiffness will last sometimes all day, but more often until mid afternoon when I suddenly find I can move more easily.

  • I'm horribly stiff first thing ESP if I've had a good nights sleep and haven't got up. It's a harder version of the stiffness you get it immobile for a while. Further though it takes me a while to get going these days which is annoying. Strangely it's not so bad if I have to get up early.

  • My getting up out of bed and out of chair stiffness, was cured with a good dose of vitamin D3. I was diagnosed with tailbone pain, had hip pains, sciatica leg pains and restless legs at night.

    Doctor said I would never cure my tailbone pain, I had to learn to live with it and given gel to rub on, but I noticed the vitamin D3 1000iu prescribed to cure me of being D Deficient also partly cured my tailbone pain, stiffness and my other pains for a few days, then all pain and stiffness came back.

    Someone told me to check the www.vitamindcouncil for more up to date doses of vitamin D3, so I upped my dose and all my pains and stiffness fell away almost overnight, now if I forget to take my daily dose of D3 my pains and stiffness all come back.

    Mum described me as getting old, quick, I certainly felt it at the time.

    Many are D Deficient in UK, most do not realize, I certainly did not. :)

  • yes i am stiff all day when people talk about a flare i think i feel as i am always in a flare it is always there.When i was first diagnosed i was told it was very aggressive better than it was but feet hands and neck bad sorry for rattling when it is not my question

  • You can rattle any way you like. :)

  • Hee hee. When I went to my local Arthritis Society's 4 week workshop on Living with Inflammatory Arthritis" I was asked how many hours of morning stiffness I had. I told her 10 hours; the rest of the time I was sleeping - or trying to sleep! I have been completely under control with no stiffness what-so-ever, but lately, I have about 5 minutes of morning stiffness in my feet. Basically, it hurts to walk from my bed to the bathroom and then down to the kitchen, but then I forget all about it. Even with ongoing pain, you might find yourself capable of more later in the day than first thing in the morning. It's the whole idea of exercising/moving your joints. After a night of sleep when you haven't moved your joints, they are naturally expected to be stiff until you loosen them up through range of motion exercises, yoga, or just plan moving about. Morning stiffness is definitely real. I think rheumies try to get you to a point of less than two hours morning stiffness daily?? Personally, I'm happiest with none! :)

  • Same here! My rheumy always asks how long the stiffness lasts in the morning and I always just look at him and say "if I'm hurting when I wake up, then I'm hurting all day!" He always just looks at me. I know I don't fit his "box" and it frustrates both of us. My fingers may be a bit stiff in the morning but I don't relate that as being the same as pain. It all confuses me and I sometimes feel like my rheumy and I come from different planets...sigh.

  • Thats pretty much how I feel about it. To me pain and stiffness are two different things. You can have pain without being stiff and feel stiff without being in pain. I had loads of pain when things were bad but never what I think of as stiffness. Like you say, rheumys don't seem to understand that, they like to use the " morning stiffness" thing to gauge how we are doing.

  • I do have morning stiffness but once I get up and moving, not in bed. I really can't fathom out my body at all. I don't know if mine is polymyalgia or some type of arthritis as my diagnosis seems to keep changing.

  • I think of my pain and stiffness as kind of layered like an onion... My hands and feet are stiffest in the morning but basically stiff all day, especially if they're cold or I don't use them. They're probably the bits of me that are most sore, too. My knees and shoulders (and my hip before replacement) get stiff if I sit still, but ease up very quickly. They hurt in a sharper way than my small joints, more stabbing than burning... My back and bum pain are different: they come on in the middle of the night and sometimes wake me up, then keep me awake; they're bad for about the first hour in the morning then ease off through the day and are noticeably better for moving around - I almost never have backache and never have bum pain the daytime and evenings...

    I don't know the significance of all this though! I don't have a certain diagnosis, but seem to have OA, some kind of inflammatory arthritis, tendinosis and hypermobility, that all cause pain in their own ways!

  • That's me too. When first diagnosed it was all day stiffness. I would dread stopping any movement , eg: sitting down for 10 mins because I used to describe it as rigor mortis setting in. now I'm well/ish controlled it just the first few morning steps. I walk like something off alladin with my toes in the air !!!

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