Everyone wakes up feeling some pain in their joints or muscles from time to time. But if you find yourself consistently waking up stiff and achy, it might be time for pain-relief work with Dr. Ashesh Vyas. Aching or stiff joints may be a minor problem that is easily remedied; in other cases, your doctor may have diagnosed a condition or ailment that will benefit from physical therapy. We’ve worked with a wide range of patients who struggle with aches and pains, and we would be happy to work with you to help you enjoy a better quality of life as well!
Why Am I Stiff and Achy When I Wake Up?
Joint tissues become irritated throughout the day and by the evening, when your mind is tired, you might not even notice it. When you fall asleep and remain mostly immobile overnight, that allows the inflammation to grow thicker and irritate the joints even more. The result is that when you wake up in the morning, your joints are stiff and achy. After you start moving around, the inflammation becomes more liquid-like and the pain will lessen. One common remedy for this, which your physical therapist is likely to recommend, is that you stay properly hydrated throughout the day. Staying hydrated allows your body’s tissues to function at their normal pace, whereas dehydration slows down your chemical processes.
More Serious Medical Conditions
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a more serious medical condition that impacts your joints and tissues, physical therapy can probably help. Here are some of the most common ailments that can be relieved with the guidance of a physical therapist:
All of these conditions can cause aching, stiffness and joint pain. A physical therapist will work with you to help you try to achieve a greater range of motion with affected limbs or joints and to relieve the pain so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Tips for Stiff and Aching Joints
Your physical therapy regimen will largely depend on your specific symptoms or diagnosis. However, there are a lot of common recommendations that work hand-in-hand with physical therapy. Here are some tips that your physical therapist will likely share with you on your journey to wellness.
Get Good Sleep. Getting enough sleep at night creates a circular benefit with physical therapy exercises. When you get enough sleep, it increases your ability to effectively exercise. When you exercise regularly, it helps you to get better sleep. Better sleep habits and physical exercise are a powerful “one-two punch” for keeping aches and stiffness away.
Use Better Posture. If your work requires you to sit at a desk for long hours, or if you stay sedentary for long periods every day, try to get up every half hour for some light stretches. Move around to keep your circulation going, which helps to relieve joint pain. Proper posture when sitting or standing will help your joints to function properly. When we use bad posture, it puts strain on areas of the body that weren’t meant to be stressed.
Improve Your Diet. Be sure to consume lots of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. These healthy foods have more antioxidants and vitamins, which fight off the inflammation that can lead to joint pain. A better diet also helps you to get better sleep and helps your body receive more benefit from exercise.
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or an Olympic-class athlete to work with a physical therapist. Most of the exercises and stretches that your therapist will recommend are simple to perform and don’t require any special equipment — and most of our patients are just regular people (not super athletes).
Internal inflammation can wreak havoc with your health. You may already be seeing a physical therapist for inflammation-related health issues, such as arthritis. Whether you have a specific diagnosis or generalized pain in your back and joints, physical therapy can help. Our physical therapists at ActiveKare Physical Therapy may also suggest an anti-inflammatory diet for additional pain relief.
What to Avoid
One of the quickest way to reverse nutrition-based inflammation is to stop eating the foods most associated with it. Unfortunately, for many people, these foods tend to be convenience items. That means that you may need to readjust how you think about preparing meals and snacks in your quest for pain relief.
On the plus side? There are few surprises in the types of foods that make inflammation worse. You probably already know these nutritional “no-nos” – they’re also bad for your heart and your waistline. So whether your guilty pleasures are savory or sweet, begin to ease them out of your meal plans.
Packaged meals and junk food snacks are often full of trans fat, sugar and preservatives. In addition, avoid fatty and fried foods, red meat, pastries and donuts, white breads, white rice and semolina pasta. If you’re at all sensitive to inflammatory foods, these are among the worst when it comes to bringing on painful flare-ups.
How to Replace Inflammatory Foods
Many “bad guys” in the food world have easy alternatives. Substitute white bread with whole-grain bread, white rice with brown rice, and semolina pasta with wheat or garbanzo pasta. In place of hamburger, chops and meatloaf, focus on fish, chicken and veggie “steaks.”
Preparation is also an important component of an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid frying foods or ordering fried foods when eating out. Instead, opt for the same ingredients that have been grilled, roasted or steamed. Rather than topping main courses and side dishes with creamy sauces and dressings, choose healthier alternatives. Topping options for various salads, side dishes and main courses include vinaigrette, Greek yogurt, tomato salsa, fruit salsa, lemon juice and herbal olive oil.
Along with healthy substitutions of inflammatory foods, look for nutritional choices you can make that directly address internal swelling, Make sure to add these to your meal plans each week, and assess whether your health issues seem to ease in response.
Certain anti-inflammatory herbs, spices and supplements may provide some pain relief. Multivitamins and fish oil pills are among the supplements noted for their anti-inflammatory properties. Good herbal supplement choices include boswellia, green tea, cat’s claw and devil’s claw. Other non-food items are turmeric and fresh or powdered ginger for seasoning and green tea as a soothing beverage. (Enjoy green tea hot or chilled.)
The “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables that you’ve heard of for heart health and boosted immunity may also fight inflammation. Eat more colorful fruits like berries and mangos. Vegetables that range from dark green (kale and spinach) to orange (carrots and sweet potatoes) to red/purple (beets and tomatoes) to yellow (sweet peppers and corn) are also great choices.
Along with fish oil pills for omega-3 inflammation protection, add more actual fish to your diet. The types highest in Omega-3 fats are, not surprisingly, fatty fish. Salmon, herring, sardines, trout, mackerel and tuna all may provide some pain relief when inflammation is the culprit.
Long-term pain relief can rarely be achieved with diet alone. As important as nutrition is, it’s also crucial to consult your doctor about other ways to gain flexibility and reduce pain. Physical therapy can help to work with your dietary changes. Together, these changes address the inflammation that’s causing stiffness and discomfort. Contact us today at ActiveKare Physical Therapyin Sterling Heights, MI, to learn more about how physical therapy and nutritional coaching can make a difference.
As people age, many develop aches and pains that become progressively worse and begin to interfere with their normal work requirements, daily activities and even healthy sleep patterns. In many cases these aches and pains are worse upon awakening in the morning and ease as the person arises and begins to move about. Although this type of pain can have a number of causes, some of the most common ones are those related to a decrease in the level of overall health or activity, an illness or injury, a sedentary lifestyle, inadequate or improper exercise and poor nutrition.
Why Are Aches and Pains More Prevalent Upon Awakening?
Although general pain and aching can be attributed to many causes, inflammation is one of the most common. As you move about throughout the day, the tissues of the body often become irritated, resulting in chronic inflammation. If the irritation is not severe, you may not be aware that anything is happening inside your muscles and joints but as you sleep, the inflammation becomes thickened, making your body’s tissues less elastic. This inelasticity increases the irritant level in the tissues of the body and the results are felt as stiff or aching muscles and joints upon awakening.
As you arise and begin to move about, the inflammation in the tissues becomes less thick, allowing the tissues, muscles and joints to begin to move more freely and the pain recedes.
When this constant cycle of building and receding inflammation repeats again and again, chronic tissue degeneration occurs and permanent damage can result. This is why it is important to take morning aches and pains seriously and find proven ways to relieve the discomfort.
What Are Some Effective Ways to Help Relieve Common Aches and Pains?
Some of the best ways to help reduce the occurrence of morning aches and pains and the damage they cause is to take better care of your body and work to improve your overall health. This includes making sure that you:
eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on anti-oxidant rich fruits, vegetables and nuts, such as peppers, carrots, broccoli, berries, grapes, citrus and walnuts
drink plenty of water to ensure proper hydration of body tissues, including muscles and joints
get regular, low impact exercise to make your body’s metabolism more efficient and help to remove waste materials that can build up and inflame body tissues
get enough restful sleep to maintain body chemistry and help promote normal function
improve sitting and standing posture to alleviate pressure points and help to prevent stress on muscles, joints and bones that can promote unhealthy inflammation
learn to manage stress to prevent involuntary tensing of muscles that can result in inflamed muscles and joints
Aches and pains that do not respond to your efforts to relieve them, those that seem to worsen or those that are related to some type of recent or past injury, can often be helped with the assistance of a professional physical therapy team, like ours. By using our skills and knowledge of the human anatomy, we can help patients reduce aches and pains and strengthen muscles, joints and bones to help ward off the inflammation that causes this type of discomfort.