Osteoporosis vs Osteoarthritis: 7 Things You Need to Know Right Now

Osteoporosis can be commonly associated with Osteoarthritis. Both conditions can impact your strength, mobility, and confidence in daily life. There are seven things that you should know about these two conditions if you have been diagnosed with one or both. Take a look to see exactly what you should know.

1. What are these conditions?

Osteoporosis is a common condition primarily in women that involves the bones. It includes weakening of the bones commonly in the hips, spine, and forearm/wrist. It can be caused by low calcium intake, malnourishment, reduced estrogen, physical inactivity, as well as family history.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that involves the joints. It includes joint stiffness, pain, and limited mobility in larger joints such as hips, knees, spine, and shoulder. It can also exist in smaller joints such as hands or feet. Common causes of osteoarthritis include family history, high levels of inflammation, obesity, physical inactivity, and previous history of surgery.

2. Why do they commonly exist together?

Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis commonly exist together for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is when you are dealing with joint pain it is common to reduce activity levels. This can lead to muscle weakness and decreased bone strength. Bones like a challenge and one of the best ways to keep up bone strength is to do weight bearing exercise, meaning exercises where you are standing. If you spend a majority of time laying down or sitting, this can actually negatively impact your bones.

Physical inactivity is one of the causes in both of these conditions and can make you more susceptible to both conditions as well.


3. If I have one of these conditions, where should I start?

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, one of the major priorities is improving bone strength. This can be through a variety of different outlets, one of the major ones being through higher impact exercise. There are some steroids, hormones and other medications that your doctor may recommend to help build up your bone. Increasing calcium intake with food or supplements may be something that is recommended to you as well.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, one of the major priorities is increasing your muscle strength and reducing inflammation. Inflammation can come from many different aspects of life including highly processed diet, inactivity, high stress or anxiety, and weight gain. Building your muscle strength is absolutely crucial to being able to find pain relief. Learn why exercise is helpful for osteoarthritis here: https://keeptheadventurealive.com/does-exercise-make-osteoarthritis-worse/

4. Who do I need to see for either of these conditions?

When looking at osteoporosis vs osteoarthritis, there are different healthcare professionals that can help.

If you have osteoporosis, the primary people that can help are usually rheumatologists, endocrinologists, and physical therapists. Rheumatologists and endocrinologists can help to suggest medications and pharmacological treatment options. Physical therapists can help suggest the appropriate exercise program for you to help improve your bone strength.

If you have osteoarthritis, the primary people you can see to help are rheumatologists, family physician, orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine physician, and physical therapists. The important thing is to find a healthcare professional that is going to give you options, besides surgery. Surgery is not the only option to treat osteoarthritis. Physical Therapists can help you find an appropriate exercise program to strengthen the muscles around your joints.

If you have both of these conditions, it is extremely important to find a physical therapist to help you not only create a strong exercise program for your bones, but you must also make sure it won’t flare up your joint pain too.

5. Osteoporosis vs osteoarthritis, which is worse? Am I doomed if I have both?

When looking at both of these conditions, there isn’t necessarily one that is worse than the other. Both can have varying degrees of severity.

There are people who have a severe degree of osteoporosis that can fracture a vertebrae (bone in your spine) from sneezing or fracture a hip just turning. Then there are some who don’t even know they have it or have a mild case that can be managed simply with lifestyle changes. Without the proper care or action, it can have significant consequences. Osteoporosis doesn’t typically significantly impact mobility unless you are at a significant risk for fractures.

There are people that have osteoarthritis that have a hard time simply walking around their homes and others who don’t even know they have it. Without taking the action needed to help osteoarthritis, it can become severely debilitating. WIth the right action though, people can do amazing things like hike, ski, bike, and even run despite osteoarthritis.

If you have both, you are not doomed! It’s extremely important to take action to strengthen both your bones and muscles so you can keep doing things you love. Without the proper management there are consequences such as pain, weakness, instability, poor balance, and fractures.

6. How do I know if I have either?

Osteoporosis is typically diagnosed with a full body scan called a DXA scan. This test can read your bone density, how strong/thick your bones are. If your bone density falls outside of normal values, you can be diagnosed with osteoporosis. Other test such as hormone levels can be telling as well.

Osteoarthritis is typically diagnosed based on your symptoms and an x-ray. Common symptoms include morning joint stiffness, joint pain, and loss of range of motion. There isn’t a particular test that can directly define an arthritis diagnosis though. There is a blood test that can test for levels of CRP (a type of inflammation) that can contribute to the diagnosis if numbers are outside normal ranges.

7. How do I prevent either from getting worse?

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is so important to get certain lifestyle factors under control including diet (if calcium deficient) and exercise. Both can dramatically impact the progression of osteoporosis. Building bone strength is one of the most vital treatments and there has been research to show that it can be done with diet and exercise. If medications are prescribed, taking them at recommended dosages will be helpful too.

If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis it is also important to control for lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. The more processed foods you eat and the less you exercise, the more inflammation that will be in your body. It is crucial to find ways to decrease inflammation for success with osteoarthritis. If you would like to know more about the first steps when dealing with osteoarthritis, you can download the free Ultimate Arthritis Guide here: https://keeptheadventurealive.com/ultimate-arthritis-guide/