The Link Between Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis


Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are disorders of the bones and joints. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions the space between the joints starts to break down. In osteoporosis, the bone becomes less dense.

The Risks

Just about everyone is at risk for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis because in many cases they are the consequence of the everyday wear and tear on the skeleton. Women, especially Caucasians and Asian women of slender build, are at higher risk for both disorders since their bones are already less dense than the bones of men. Women who have had early menopause are also more at risk for osteoporosis as are people who do not exercise, have poor nutrition, suffer eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Smokers and heavy drinkers are at higher risk, as are men who have low levels of testosterone. These bone disorders are more than just joint pain. When your bones have been weakened by osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, you become vulnerable to major bone fractures from just minor traumas.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis

The symptoms of both disorders differ depending on the patient. Osteoporosis often doesn’t cause symptoms in most people until they fracture one of their weakened bones. Even then, the pain from the fracture varies from one person to the other. The usual symptoms of arthritis are stiffness and pain in the joints. Damp, cold weather can make the aching worse. Joints also have less range of motion, and they may swell and make a grinding sound if they’re moved. The pain associated with arthritis does not depend on its severity. Some people with mild arthritis have a lot of pain, while others with severe arthritis have little pain.

How to Take Care of Your Bones

To reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, it is important to maintain a healthy weight for your height. Exercise is important for maintaining your bone health, but you shouldn’t exercise to the point where you can injure your joints. Everyone can lower their risk of osteoporosis by making sure they get enough calcium and vitamin D, starting in childhood. Regular exercise is also helpful for children and adults of all ages. You should never start smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation if you decide to drink.

Though osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are common, there is much that a person can do to either prevent them or ease their discomfort. Vitamins and minerals support the strength of the bones, while exercise strengthens both bone and muscle.