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Arthritis Specialist

Thirlby Clinic, PLC

Internal Medicine & Family Medicine located in Traverse City, MI

About 33% of Michigan residents have arthritis today, and you can develop it at any point in adulthood. Nearly half of those with arthritis today are under 65. Regardless of your age, it’s important to know that you need not live in pain when experiencing arthritis symptoms. At Thirlby Clinic, PLC, in Traverse City, Michigan, the team of caring doctors offers the most effective treatments for arthritis so you can have a lifestyle you love. Call the office or book an appointment online.

Arthritis Q & A

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a collection of diseases that cause joint inflammation, deformity, and pain. There are 100-plus forms of arthritis. The two most common forms in adults are: 


Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, occurs when the cartilage that blankets your joints breaks down. When the joint bones rub together, it causes inflammation and symptoms, including pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the ultrathin membrane lining your joints, the synovium. Your synovium reacts by overproducing lubricating fluid, which causes swelling. Severely swollen synovium can erode cartilage and bone, warping your joints. 

Other relatively common types of arthritis include gout, psoriatic arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. 

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Symptoms of arthritis usually include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Limited range-of-motion
  • Warm-feeling joints
  • Red skin around joints
  • Joints that “lock-up”
  • Visible joint deformity
  • Balance problems

The joints involved can vary with the form of arthritis. In general, osteoarthritis affects joints in the hips, knees, hands, spine, and neck on one side of your body. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects multiple smaller joints on both sides of your body, often in the hands, wrists, and knees.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

The Thirlby Clinic, PLC, team starts with a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms. Next, you may need lab tests (labs) to identify inflammation markers in your blood. In some cases, your doctor may withdraw a small amount of fluid from your joint for lab testing. 

Imaging tests, such as bone X-rays, MRI, CT scan, or musculoskeletal ultrasound, reveal changes in your bones and the soft tissues around them. These help the team diagnose your specific kind of arthritis.

How do you treat arthritis?

At Thirlby Clinic, PLC, the team offers comprehensive arthritis care that emphasizes pain relief and improved mobility. The non-surgical approach works very well for many people living with arthritis. The team may suggest:

  • Weight loss
  • Regular exercise, like walking
  • Physical therapy
  • Walking aids
  • Anti-inflammatory injections
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs 
  • Biological response modifier drugs

If you have severe joint erosion and non-surgical treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may recommend surgery such as a joint replacement. 

Most people with arthritis can maintain an active lifestyle by being proactive about their health. Regular wellness exams at Thirlby Clinic, PLC, are an important part of this.

Thirlby Clinic, PLC, can help you minimize arthritis’s harmful effects and enjoy life without restrictions. Schedule an appointment online or call the office today.