Making the Difference Between Arthritis and Osteoporosis

Last Updated: 12.04.24


Arthritis and osteoporosis are two chronic conditions that affect a person’s bones, especially with the advancement in age. However, they are two different conditions, and while the first affects the joints making them swollen and stiff, the other causes the bone mass to reduce and become prone to fractures. Knowing the many differences between the two conditions will help you understand them better, and also learn what treatment and care are required for each.

About osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones. The bone mass in your body suffers various changes throughout the years. It will grow until you reach the age of 25, but its growing pace will decrease, and the degradation process will start to take over year after year, especially once you reach seniority.

What happens if osteoporosis starts to install is that your bones become more porous. That means that they are less dense, and, for that reason, they become prone to fractures. Women seem to be more exposed to the risk of developing osteoporosis than men because, as a general rule, their bones are smaller and more fragile.


Causes of osteoporosis

There can be many causes for this condition, starting with the fact that your bones might not have grown healthy enough during the developmental years. Without adequate intake of calcium as a child and as a teenager, your bones might not become strong enough, and that could be a cause for osteoporosis once you reach an advanced age.

Osteoporosis can be caused by other things, too. For instance, studies show that prolonged use of corticosteroids can lead to the development of osteoporosis. Also, not getting enough exercise – that can strengthen your bones – can be a cause. Other ailments and diseases can come accompanied by osteoporosis, such as bone cancer or the Cushing’s disease.


Risk factors of osteoporosis

As mentioned earlier, women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men. It also looks like race plays a role, too, as Asians and Caucasian people seem to be the most affected. Don’t forget that bad habits such as smoking and drinking can also influence the healthy development of your bone mass.

Not eating properly and even worse, suffering from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, can influence how your body absorbs the necessary nutrients needed for your bones. Osteoporosis can also run in the family.


Symptoms and treatment of osteoporosis

There are no apparent signs of osteoporosis, and usually, the condition is discovered when the person affected by it ends up in the hospital with a broken bone. Chronic pains can accompany osteoporosis, and people who suffer from it end up having more and more reduced range of movement.

Some osteoporosis treatments are available, and you can treat, to some degree, this condition. Usually, doctors prescribe bisphosphonates to ensure proper mineralization for your bones. Such treatments can make your bones stronger, and you can find them useful. Also, some form of physical exercise may be indicated for building stronger muscles.

Prevention is highly recommended, too. Women, in particular, with a history of osteoporosis in their family, can talk to their doctors about their concerns and get some treatment even before the onset of this condition.


About arthritis

Arthritis or osteoarthritis as it is called is a condition that, just like osteoporosis, affects the bones. However, this is where the similarities stop, as the damage that occurs happens to the joints and not the bones directly. The cartilage between the bones begins to suffer from wear and tear, and that is why you start experiencing the pains associated with it.

The cartilage is a soft tissue whose primary role is to cushion the end of the bones against damage. When you have arthritis, this cartilage becomes rough and begins to thin out. The bones end up rubbing against themselves, hence the pain you are experiencing.

Causes of arthritis

One of the most common causes of arthritis is the natural wear and tear that comes with age. This cause is inevitable, and that is why a lot of seniors suffer, to some degree, from arthritis. The most affected joints are those located in the hands, the legs, and the spinal bones. When they are located in the neck and the back, the condition is called spondylosis.

Infections and injuries may have a role to play in the onset of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that is caused by an autoimmune response of the body. What happens is that the body attacks the synovium, a fluid that keeps the joints lubricated.


Risk factors of arthritis

Being over 60 years of age puts you the most at risk of developing arthritis. Repetitive stress on the joints can be a risk factor, as well. For instance, if you work using your hands, the repetitive motion will have an impact on your joints. Wearing arthritis gloves might help alleviate the painful sensations.

If you are overweight, this condition is more likely to affect you. The occurrence of this condition in your family will influence your risk of getting it, as well. Even athletes can suffer from this condition, due to the stress they subject their joints to during their intensive training routines. Injuries and abnormal growth of your joints are also factors that should be taken into consideration.


Symptoms and treatment of arthritis

You must bear in mind that arthritis is a chronic disease, so there is no cure for it. However, you can do something about the symptoms, which mainly consists of painful joints. You will also notice stiffness in the same areas, as well as a decreased range of movement. That happens mostly when you wake up in the morning, and your joints have been immobile for some time.

One way of treating this condition is by including more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. At the same time, you should reduce fat and sugar, as these promote inflammation. Other possible methods of treating this condition involve taking collagen supplements for joints that will stimulate your cartilage and make it more mobile. Some form of exercise is also recommended, as long as it is not intensive.



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