A reader asked this question:

Q: I am 59 yrs. old and would like to  get rid of the stiffness in my body.  I am active and go to a fitness place  and workout twice a week. I eat and drink  good stuff.

This is an excellent question.  It’s a very common problem which can have multiple causes so the treatment changes with each individual. Stiffness is caused by neurological disorders, a lack of available energy in the muscles, or too much inflammation in the body.

Lack of energy can have multiple causes.  If you’re taking a cholesterol drug you may not have enough CoQ10.  If you have stomach problems you may be lacking in vitamin B-12.  There are many different nutrient deficiencies that can limit energy.  Sometimes the lack of available energy is because there is too much energy in the body.

This paradox is seen in those who have excess body fat, especially in the abdominal area.  The abdominal fat prevents the production of hormones such as ADIPONECTIN which affect every cell in your body. Also, a lack of exercise (not your specific problem) will decrease your available energy.

Inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is a common cause of stiffness, especially in the morning.  If you wake up and have to work out the stiffness (grease your joints) before you can function, this may be your problem.  Other inflammatory conditions also may cause stiffness.  Sometimes there isn’t a specific condition such as scleroderma, SLE (lupus), psoriasis, or RA that brings on the stiffness, but rather it is simply having an imbalance of pro-inflammatory mediators.  These are the natural hormones in your body that cause or suppress inflammation.  They are prostaglandins, histamines, and leukotrienes, primarily. 

You’ve heard of omega 3-oil .  The reason this is recommended is because we (Americans) eat too much omega-6 oil (vegetable oils and animal fats).  The omega-6 is made into the prostaglandins that increase inflammation, while the omega-3 oils are made into the ones that suppress it.  There are, then, two ways to decrease inflammation: 1) increase your omega-3 oils and/or 2) decrease your omega-6.  I recommend both.

Stiffness in a 59-year-old raises the question of Parkinson’s Disease.  It’s important that you find this early because there are some good natural treatments to stop or reverse it.  Moreover, the drug treatments (Dopamine agonists such as L-dopa and Sinemet) cause the disease to progress more quickly, making it worse.

My advice is to get a proper diagnosis of why the stiffness exists, then the way to treat it will be clear.

Dr. S