Arthritis and osteoporosis, the connection between these two illnesses
Osteoporosis is the loss of mineral density in the bones. We’ll talk about how it relates to arthritis.
get arthritis and osteoporosis mixed up. And that’s understandable
when you take into account the similarities between the two conditions – they both sound alike (especially when you hear
terms like “osteoarthritis”), they´re both chronic conditions (i.e. they have
no cure) and they often occur simultaneously.
Women who have already gone through menopause, are not only more prone to
developing osteoporosis, they are also two or three times more likely to end up
developing arthritis. While both of these conditions affect the locomotor
system, there’s actually quite a big difference in their symptoms and how they
are diagnosed and treated.
– the “silent illness”
Osteoporosis (literally – “porous bones”) is a condition
involving loss of bone mineral density
that causes the bones to become fragile and brittle. Osteoporosis often doesn’t
provoke any symptoms whatsoever, which means it’s quite common for a broken
bone to be the first sign alerting a person to its existence. Fractures caused
by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine, hips and the bones in the wrist.
can be diagnosed using tests to measure the bone mineral density (BMD) of the spine and hips – generally using
a technique called central dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (or central DXA).
on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation
of joint tissue (for example in the knees, hips, knuckles etc.). The condition
is extremely painful and often leads to immobility. X-rays can be used to
diagnose arthritis, although a simple blood test,
accompanied by a physical exam and medical history is often all it takes to
reach a diagnosis.
link between arthritis and osteoporosis
While, as explained
above, the conditions are actually quite different, it’s not uncommon for them
to appear simultaneously. Several clinical studies have shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis often
experience more bone fractures than people who don’t have the condition.
There are several reasons for this:
First of all
– and as already stated – women who have already gone through menopause (especially
those who had their last period relatively early) are more prone to osteoporosis.
This is because, a woman’s estrogen
levels drop quite dramatically after menopause, and estrogen is one of the
female hormones that helps prevent bone loss.
At the same
time, the pain and loss of joint flexibility associated with arthritis often
leads to inactivity, which (as will
be discussed below) is a risk factor for the development of osteoporosis.
the treatment with corticosteroids that is generally recommended for arthritis
can, in some cases, lead to a significant loss of bone mineral density. In
these cases, it may be advisable to supplement the treatment with other
medications that are also effective in managing the illness – bisphosphonates, for example.
say that the above-mentioned elements are merely associated factors. They claim
that it is the rheumatoid arthritis itself
that leads to loss of bone mineral density, especially in the areas of bone
close to the joints.
protect against osteoporosis
A balanced diet (rich in calcium and vitamin D) is vitally
important to bone health. Calcium is readily found in dairy products
(especially those that are fortified with calcium) and dark green leafy
vegetables like Swiss chard and spinach. If you are lactose intolerant there
are a variety of supplements that will help ensure you meet the 1,200 mg
recommended daily amount of calcium. Vitamin D, which plays an extremely
important role in the absorption of calcium, can be found (in high
concentrations) in egg whites, fish and liver.
We often forget that bones are living tissue that can be strengthened
with exercise. The best kinds of exercise are walking, climbing stairs
and, arthritis permitting, dancing and lifting weights. While exercise
can be especially challenging if you have arthritis, it’s also extremely
beneficial – improving the health of your bones and your joints.
Smoking is just as harmful for your bones as it is for your heart or lungs.
Not only can it cause early menopause (meaning the women lose bone density
earlier than usual), it also has a detrimental effect on the absorption of
calcium. In the same way, alcohol abuse can have a big effect on a person’s
appetite and nutrition and people who drink a lot are more prone to falling.
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