Management strategies such as gentle stretching, taking a morning walk, and sleeping with a heated blanket may help people with psoriatic arthritis reduce early morning joint pain and stiffness.

Joint stiffness that worsens early in the morning is a common symptom of psoriatic arthritis (PsA). This symptom typically fades throughout the morning but can cause delays in getting ready for the day.

General treatment may help reduce joint pain and stiffness and prevent further deterioration.

However, people can also take steps to ease pressure on themselves in the mornings, such as requesting flexible working or preparing breakfast the night before.

This article explains why PsA symptoms may feel worse in the morning, how to relieve morning joint stiffness, and when to speak to a doctor for more help.

A person with psoriatic arthritis experiencing joint stiffness while standing outside in the morning.-1Share on Pinterest
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PsA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and damages healthy cells. This can cause symptoms such as swelling, inflammation, and joint pain.

PsA is a type of inflammatory arthritis. Symptoms of inflammatory arthritis may worsen in the morning because resting overnight leads to a buildup of joint fluid, which causes pain and stiffness.

People may also experience worsening symptoms after resting or staying still for too long during the day.

There is currently no cure for PsA. However, people may experience flares and lulls in their symptoms, meaning morning stiffness and pain may sometimes feel better.

People may be able to reduce morning stiffness by learning what triggers their flares and avoiding those triggers.

Early diagnosis and treatment strategies can also help people to relieve the symptoms of PsA and prevent disease progression, which could result in more severe symptoms.

Doctors may recommend the following treatment options to prevent or relieve symptoms such as morning joint stiffness in people with PsA:

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy may involve strength training, stretching, and gentle exercise. According to a 2021 review, it may help to treat joint pain, swelling, and tenderness in affected joints.
  • Devices to protect joints: Devices such as splints and braces can protect joints from painful movements that could lead to stiffness and inflammation in the morning.
  • Regular exercise: According to a 2021 systematic review, physical activity may positively affect condition activity, well-being, and comorbidities in people with PsA.
  • Corticosteroids: Doctors can inject corticosteroids into the joints to reduce symptoms such as pain and swelling.
  • Medications: Doctors may prescribe medications such as methotrexate or injectable biologics. A 2019 study found that the medication apremilast (Otezla) improved morning joint stiffness, pain, and function after as little as 2 weeks in people with PsA.
  • Surgery: Doctors may suggest surgery for people with severe joint damage from PsA.

People with PsA may be unable to avoid stiff joints in the morning altogether. However, the following steps may make morning stiffness easier to cope with:

  • wear heated gloves to soothe the joints in the hands
  • warm clothes in the dryer before getting dressed
  • stretch before getting out of bed
  • request flexible working arrangements to take time pressure out of mornings
  • take a warm shower
  • prepare breakfast the night before, such as overnight oats or smoothies
  • move the bedroom to the first floor if possible
  • sleep with a heated blanket
  • take a gentle walk in the mornings

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), treatment is vital to manage the symptoms of PsA

If someone experiences joint stiffness in the morning, they might consider talking their doctor, particularly if this symptom interferes with their ability to get ready or affects their mental health.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important to protect the joints from structural damage and to prevent further progression of the condition.

PsA can cause symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation that are often worse in the mornings or after periods of rest.

Treating PsA can help reduce specific symptoms, including morning stiffness. However, people can also take steps to manage stiffness that interferes with their morning routine.

Stretching, sleeping with a heated electric blanket, and preparing breakfast the night before may make mornings easier for people with this condition.