Duration Of Morning Stiffness

What Causes Morning Stiffness?

Morning stiffness can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnose your symptoms now!
  • check your overall health status
  • learn what you should be doing right now
  • have a doctor review your case (optional)

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose morning stiffness, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "morning stiffness" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities:
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus (SLE)
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Scleroderma

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
regular morning stiffness
minor mouth sores
nasal congestion
severe vision disturbances
very dry eyes
major pain in cold/cool/damp weather
minor inflamed cuticles
unsound sleep
swollen axillary nodes
regular sun rash on cheeks
Heberden's nodes
multiple swollen inguinal nodes
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of morning stiffness:
Cause Probability Status
Osteoarthritis 91% Confirm
Lupus (SLE) 27% Unlikely
Ankylosing Spondylitis 16% Unlikely
Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
Scleroderma 0% Ruled out
Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia 0% Ruled out
Psoriatic Arthritis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate chronic morning stiffness, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
How long is it before your morning stiffness/pain improves? Select the answer that best describes your usual experience.
Possible responses:
→ I don't have morning stiffness / don't know
→ My joints feel better within 30 minutes
→ My joints feel better within 45 minutes to 2 hours
→ It is several hours before my joints feel better
→ Variable - sometimes minutes, sometimes hours
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate morning stiffness that eases rapidly, morning stiffness for 45-120 minutes, morning stiffness lasting hours or variable duration morning stiffness, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia patients often complain of generalized morning pain and stiffness that may not get better for hours.

Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Lupus patients often complain of prolonged morning stiffness or pain which may last 45 minutes or longer.


Osteoarthritis patients' symptoms typically improve within 30 minutes but may be aggravated during the day with use of the affected joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis patients often complain of prolonged morning stiffness or pain which may last 45 minutes or longer.

... and also rule out issues such as:
Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
Symptom Entry
Symptom Entry
Full Explanations
Optional Doctor Review
Review (optional)
We use cookies for traffic analysis, advertising, and to provide the best user experience