Morning stiffness that lasts for at least an hour could be an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Morning stiffness has been described by arthritis patients as an ache, combined with difficulty moving.
Similarly, morning stiffness that lasts less than 30 minutes could be a sign of osteoarthritis, the UK’s most common type of arthritis.
Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include sweating, weight loss, and fatigue.
“[Stiffness] is a classic arthritis symptom, especially when waking up in the morning or after sitting at a desk or riding in a car for a long time,” said the Arthritis Foundation.
“Morning stiffness that lasts longer than an hour is good reason to suspect arthritis.”
Morning stiffness is the most common early sign of rheumatoid arthritis, added medical website Healthline.
“Rheumatologists consider morning stiffness that lasts at least an hour a key sign of rheumatoid arthritis,” said Healthline.
“Although the stiffness usually loosens and goes away, it can take some time.”
Stiffness can vary from slight stiffening of the fingers, to near-complete immobility.
Patients can be woken up early in the morning by the searing pain, according to researchers.
The hands are mainly affected by morning stiffness, although the entire body could be at risk.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients may also experience swollen hands in the early morning.
The arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, according to the NHS.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition – where the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells that line joints by mistake. This can cause joint pain and stiffness.
You’re most at risk of developing the condition if you’re a woman, a smoker, or have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis.
There’s currently no cure for the arthritis, but early diagnosis and some treatments could help to reduce the severity of symptoms.