Joint stiffness could be a sign of something more

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By Advocate health enews

While the human body loses lean tissue, cell muscles and bone minerals as it ages, stiff joints may be caused by a combination of more serious health issues like bursitis, tissue disease and bone fractures.

“The most common cause of stiff joints is degenerate arthritis or osteoarthritis,” says Dr. Dennis Levinson, a rheumatologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “The actual cause in a joint is probably a combination of disease or inflammation that affects the bone, the cartilage, ligaments, tendons and the lining of the joints, called the synovium.”

Systemic illnesses can cause arthritis as well as kidney disease, central nervous disease, psychiatric problems and blood problems, Dr. Levinson says.

Taking the right medicine, properly resting joints and exercising might help with arthritis symptoms, according to the National Institute on Aging. Daily exercise such as walking or swimming helps keep joints moving, lessens pain and makes muscles around the joints stronger.

Exercise can also help those with arthritis. A few which can be helpful include:

Range-of-motion exercises like dancing might relieve stiffness, keep you flexible and help joint movement
Strengthening exercises such as weight training keeps or adds muscle strength
Aerobic or endurance exercises like bicycle riding make your heart and arteries healthier, helps prevent weight gain and may lessen swelling in some joints
While stiff joints cannot be prevented, pain relief and improved flexibility are possible.

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