Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis may sound similar, but they are very distinct diseases, and it is essential to know the difference between osteoporosis vs osteoarthritis.

Both diseases concern the bone, which, as you may know, is what “osteo” refers to. However, “porosis” and “arthritis” are quite different.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes a loss in bone tissue, resulting in brittle, frail bones that are prone to fracture. 

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and regrows, but this process (called bone remodeling) slows down as you grow older. Osteoporosis patients’ process of bone remodeling slows down even more significantly, causing bone loss and weak bones that lead to fractures.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Because there are typically no symptoms during the beginning stages of bone loss, osteoporosis often goes undetected for many years until a fracture occurs. 

Symptoms of Osteoporosis include:

  • Breaks and fractures
  • Back pain
  • Change in posture
  • Loss in height
  • Low calcium and Vitamin D

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

Those most at risk of osteoporosis are postmenopausal women and women who entered menopause early. However, there are numerous risk factors, which include:

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Thin or small frame
  • Low calcium or Vitamin D intake
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking or excessive alcohol use
  • Postmenopausal or entered menopause early
  • Irregular absence of menstrual periods
  • Extended use of certain drugs (i.e., prednisone)

It is vital for individuals at risk of osteoporosis to supplement with calcium and Vitamin D daily and get low-to-moderate impact exercise 3-4 times per week to maintain bone strength.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. It is a painful joint condition that typically manifests in the hands, wrists, knees, back, neck, spine, and hips, though it can affect any joint in the body.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a result of the protective cartilage surrounding the joints wearing down over time. It is often caused by repetitive and regular movements, such as those from a job or sport.  

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness in the affected joints that worsen throughout the day and with use. 

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain and stiffness in joints
  • Grinding or cracking of joints (also known as crepitus)
  • Bony swelling of joints
  • Decreased range of motion

Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect anyone, but the most common risk factors include:

  • Age (50+)
  • Gender (women over 50)
  • Obesity 
  • Previously injured or worn-out joints
  • Family history of osteoarthritis

Treatment and Prevention of Osteoporosis vs Osteoarthritis

While osteoporosis vs osteoarthritis are two very different diseases, they have similar treatment options. Individuals with arthritis and fractures may use over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). 

Physical therapy and rehabilitation are also beneficial for both conditions and can increase range of motion, strengthen posture, and fortify muscles. 

For those with severe osteoarthritis, surgical procedures such as arthroplasties or interventions such as gel or stem-cell injections may be recommended. 

Individuals who have osteoporosis are prescribed certain medications that regrow bone and halt bone loss. 

We Can Help

Advanced Rheumatology of Houston can help you find the perfect treatment option for you and get you back on the road to healthy living. Contact our office today at 281-519-6344 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brionez.