Osteoporosis Home > Arthritis and Osteoporosis

People often confuse arthritis and osteoporosis, but these two conditions are not the same. They are diagnosed differently, treated differently, and have different symptoms.

An Overview of Arthritis and Osteoporosis

Many people confuse osteoporosis and some types of arthritis. But as the following sections explain, these two conditions are vastly different.


Osteoporosis is a major health threat for 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women. With osteoporosis, there is a loss of bone tissue that leaves bones less dense and prone to fracture. Osteoporosis can result in a loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. Osteoporosis can also impair a person's ability to walk, and can even cause prolonged or permanent disability.
Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:
  • Thinness or small frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Being postmenopausal or having had early menopause
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Prolonged use of certain medications, such as those used to treat diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, asthma, thyroid deficiencies, and seizures
  • Low calcium intake
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease that can often be prevented. However, if undetected, it can progress for many years without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a bone mineral density (BMD) test, a safe and painless way to detect low bone density.
Although there is no cure for the disease, several medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. In addition, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, regular weight-bearing exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can prevent or lessen the effects of the disease.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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