Keeping Your Life in Motion- What is Arthritis?

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Dr. Richard McClain

What is Arthritis?

By: Dr. Richard McClain, Allied Bone and Joint Plymouth Office

There’s an inspirational poster I like of a muscled older man pumping iron with the quote: “Getting old is not for sissies.” One of the afflictions of aging is arthritis. Arthritis literally means joint inflammation, but we’ve taken to using it for osteoarthritis — wear-and-tear erosion of joint cartilage.

Our joints have shiny, white cartilage on each side that acts like ball bearings when lubricated, allowing movement under tremendous loads. Each joint is encapsulated and lubricated for the “bearings” and each “capsule” is lined with soft tissue that produces the lubrication. When something disrupts the well-oiled machine, much like a noisy engine, breakdown occurs. The shiny cartilage eventually erodes, inflammation occurs, the joint swells and we feel pain.

As with most orthopedic conditions, initial treatment includes NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), bracing, ice, multiple “non-traditional” treatments and avoiding painful activities. All of these may slow the progression of arthritis, but none will cure it. After initial treatments no longer work, it’s time to see your orthopedic doctor when you want to regain your Life in Motion.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClain, please call 574-540-2500 or click here.  You can also submit your orthopedic question or success story to