Joint Stiffness Overview
What is joint stiffness?
A person with joint stiffness has difficulty moving a joint through its normal range of motion. Joint stiffness may be caused by injury, inflammation or infection. Arthritis is the most common cause of persistent joint stiffness.
What symptoms are associated with joint stiffness?
Symptoms that can occur with joint stiffness include joint swelling, joint redness, joint warmth, joint pain, and joint deformity.
How does the doctor diagnose joint stiffness?
The doctor will often suspect the underlying cause for joint stiffness after taking your history and performing an examination. Testing is often required to confirm the diagnosis. Commonly performed tests include blood tests, such as uric acid, CBC, ESR, Lyme disease assay, and rheumatoid factor. Other tests include x-rays of the affected joints and in some cases, a MRI scan. If a joint is swollen, the doctor may obtain a sample of fluid from inside the joint by performing a procedure called arthrocentesis. Analysis of the fluid can provide information on the underlying cause for the arthritis and joint stiffness.