What are stiff joints?

Stiff joints are a symptom characterized by reduced mobility or impeded mobility of a joint. You may have difficulty moving the joint or you may be completely unable to move the joint. Joint stiffness may occur in one joint or be present in multiple joints.

Joint Problems Spotlight

There are many causes of stiff joints. Sudden joint stiffness may be due to an injury, while joint stiffness that develops and worsens over time may be due to an underlying disorder or disease. The primary cause of joint stiffness is arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints due to a variety of causes.

Stiff joints caused by injury often have a sudden onset. In other cases, stiff joints resulting from wear-and-tear damage or an underlying medical condition develop slowly and persist or worsen over time.

The duration and course of joint stiffness vary widely, depending on the cause. You may experience stiffness in the affected joint continuously, after specific activities, or at a certain times of the day. Joint stiffness may be accompanied by other joint symptoms, such as pain, inflammation, soreness and achiness.

Although life-threatening complications of stiff joints are rare, seek immediate medical care (call 911) for injuries that involve profuse bleeding or tissue damage or for stiff joints accompanied by high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit).

If your stiff joints are persistent, recurrent, or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with stiff joints?

Stiff joints may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the joints may also involve other body systems.... Read more about stiff jointssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes stiff joints?

There are many causes of stiff joints. The primary cause of stiff joints is arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints. Sudden stiff joints may be due to an injury, while joint stiffness that develops and worsens over time may be due to an underlying disease or disorder.... Read more about stiff jointscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


What's Causing Your Symptoms?