Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are medical conditions with similar names, but they are entirely different illnesses. The likeness ends in what the prefix denotes (they both relate to bones) and that there is no cure, only prevention or surgery. Otherwise, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis develop differently, have different symptoms and require different diagnostic and treatment methods.
Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis Defined
Osteoarthritis is one of the numerous forms of arthritis (and one of the two most common, the other being rheumatoid arthritis). It is joint cartilage tissue degeneration, which includes the underlying bone.
Osteoporosis refers to bone mass loss, which results in bones becoming brittle and fragile. It is characterized by a loss of bone tissue and is not limited to the joint areas.
What Causes Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis?
Osteoarthritis is caused by overuse (wear and tear) on the joints. It is a degenerative disease that typically accompanies aging, with most people over 60 displaying evidence of osteoarthritis on X-rays. However, symptoms are only felt if the cartilage deteriorates enough to cause friction between the bones or inflammation. Although, younger adults can develop the disease, too, due to a genetic defect, joint malformation or joint injury.
Osteoporosis is caused by underlying problems like hormonal changes and a calcium or vitamin D deficiency. It is most common in women post-menopause.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis?
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness, swelling and tenderness, joint deformity, crackle sounds and limping.
Osteoporosis is a painless condition until a bone fractures or breaks.
Risk Factors and Ways to Reduce the Risk of Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis
Osteoarthritis risk factors include obesity, repeated stress to joints, joint injuries (trauma to the joint), bone deformities, genetics, being female, aging and other diseases like systemic lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Preventive measures to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis include maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active (cartilage shrinks if you don’t exercise) and avoiding hazardous activities that could result in a traumatic injury.
Osteoporosis risk factors (aside from the hormonal changes of menopause and low vitamin D and calcium intake) include genetics, being female, aging, smoking and alcohol use, bone fracture after age 40, petite body (body weight under 127 pounds), lack of exercise and other diseases like hyperthyroidism or diabetes.
Early detection and management of osteoporosis are essential to prevent bone loss from worsening, which can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening consequences.
Preventive measures include avoiding extended use of contraceptive injections and excessive alcohol intake, quitting smoking, taking vitamin D and calcium supplements and participating in regular weight-bearing exercise.
When to See a Specialist
While osteoarthritis and osteoporosis cannot be cured, effective treatment options are available. At Hanowell Spine Clinic, you can undergo proper diagnostic testing to determine the severity of your condition and develop a treatment plan.
Whether you have osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, our medical team offers advanced treatments to help you regain mobility and minimize discomfort. Contact us for a consultation in either Covington or Monroe.