A comprehensive and innovative way to treat osteoarthritis and joint pain
Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is a disease of joint tissue where there is a progressive loss in cushioning cartilage leading to a "bone on bone" state inside the joint. This is often accompanied by pain and reduced physical capacity. The knees are the most common joint affected by osteoarthritis, but hips, ankles, shoulders, and the back are also frequent sites of arthritis. While the symptoms and pain levels of osteoarthritis are related to structural changes within the joint, there are also many factors outside of the joint that contribute to pain and dysfunction. Many healthcare providers will only treat what is going on inside the joint, but at AzBJSMC we treat factors inside and outside the joint that contribute to pain and dysfunction, taking a holistic approach to your treatment. We have been pioneers in the development and refinement of treatments for osteoarthritis, and have published numerous research papers in the area.
Osteoarthritis also isn't one disease -- it is actually three distinct diseases that require very different treatment approaches. Your specific type of osteoarthritis can be determined by a combination of imaging studies, physical assessments, and bloodwork. The three general types of osteoarthritis are:
- Low tissue turnover, which includes low repair and low cartilage/bone turnover
- Structural damage, which is characterized by high bone formation/resorption along with cartilage degradation
- Systemic inflammation, which includes a high level of joint tissue degradation, inflammation, and cartilage degradation
Because different patients have different types of osteoarthritis, it may explain why patients who have received a treatment in the past did not experience any pain relief. For example, patients who have a low tissue turnover type of osteoarthritis that receive a steroid injection are likely not to benefit, because they do not have high levels of inflammation that steroids treat. This is why receiving a precise diagnosis is key to improving your outcomes for joint pain!
We use a combination of therapies, delivered in a precision sequence, to effectively treat your specific type of osteoarthritis. These treatments include:
- Oral or topical medications which can treat pain and reduce inflammation. In addition to oral anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medication, we can put together custom topical medications designed to treat your specific type of osteoarthritis with minimal systemic side effects.
- Bracing can often relieve pressure in an arthritic joint. Most insurances cover custom bracing that is built specifically for your joint and that can relieve pain and help to restore function.
- Steroid injections can be used in some patients to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, steroids can also increase cartilage degeneration. When we do use steroids, in many cases we can use a specialized steroid called Zilretta, which is a specially formulated, delay release steroid that slowly soaks into you joint, providing long-lasting relief and a more gradual reduction in inflammation that is healthier for the cartilage in your knee joint.
- Viscosupplementation with injectable hyaluronic acid gels can help cushion the knee joint and indirectly reduce inflammation. This can be helpful for patients with advanced cartilage erosion or in combination with other anti-inflammatory therapies for patients with high joint inflammation.
- Nerve blocks or cryoneurolysis techniques can temporarily, and sometimes permanently, relieve pain by removing the pain sensing nerves in a joint. This can be an effective way of pain relief for all types of osteoarthritis, but is particularly helpful for patients with low tissue turnover who have moderate to severe pain.
- Class IV laser therapy can help to reduce pain and promote healing by targeting the cells around a joint with specific laser wavelengths which activate regenerative pathways in cells.
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) harnesses the growth factors and regenerative cytokines found in platelets in the blood to promote tissue healing.
- Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) which utilizes regenerative cells from your bone marrow to help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Microfragmented adipose therapy (MAT) involves harvesting fat tissue from your belly or thighs to cushion a joint and deliver regenerative cells found in the blood vessels of the fat tissue to promote tissue healing.
When treating your joint or back pain, we also consider factors outside of the joint that contribute to pain. These factors include:
- Detailed motion and strength analysis to look at your movement patterns, muscle tightness and restrictions that may be hindering your motion and causing pain. Muscle weakness or imbalance can put extra strain on a joint causing more pain and dysfunction, and correcting this can have a big impact on osteoarthritis symptoms.
- Weight loss can directly improve symptoms of osteoarthritis, and some of the medications we use for weight loss can directly reduce joint inflammation as well. We offer a comprehensive program for weight loss that is described in other sections of the website.
- Education is important, as there are many lifestyle and social factors that can impact your osteoarthritis symptoms. We have a health coach that works with you on a weekly basis to teach you more about osteoarthritis and provide tips and guidance to improve the treatment of your condition.
- Nutrition counseling and dietary guidance is important as the foods you eat can promote inflammation causing joint pain to be worse. We provide counseling and guidance to patients around choosing the best foods to help prevent symptoms of arthritis.
- Dietary supplements can help specific types of osteoarthritis. We can provide guidance on which dietary supplements to take to help your back and joints feel better.
- Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, but for therapy to work it must be highly customized to the individual patient and their specific form of osteoarthrits. We provide comprehensive physical therapy with our partners at FYZICAL Phoenix Midtown, and can also provide you with a detailed prescription for physical therapy to maximize the benefits you receive from therapy.
- Many more custom treatments are also available.
The ability to deliver a precision diagnosis and a customized, comprehensive treatment plan is why you should choose AzBJSMC for your care! Start your path to pain free living by giving us a call at or schedule your appointment with one of our providers using the booking link at the top of the page.