Both arthritis and osteoporosis are common conditions that affect many adults in the United States. It’s estimated that around 25 percent of adults in the U.S. have arthritis. In contrast, around 10 million adults have osteoporosis (with another 44 million at risk of developing osteoporosis).
At first glance, these conditions may seem similar. After all, they are both musculoskeletal conditions that affect the bones and joints. But there are actually many distinct differences between these two conditions. If you’re suffering from symptoms associated with either arthritis or osteoporosis, it’s essential to understand the similarities and differences between these conditions so you can properly treat them.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is an umbrella term referring to a group of conditions, which cause inflammation and pain in the joints. It can affect any joint in the body, including the hands, feet, hips, and spine. Risk factors for arthritis include age, genetics, obesity, and injury. That being said, the following are the most common types of arthritic conditions:
Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common form of arthritis. It’s caused by age-related wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints, leading to joint stiffness, pain, and limited mobility. OA can affect any joint in your body but is most commonly seen in the knees, hips, and hands. It’s a degenerative condition, meaning it gets worse over time.
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
Ankylosing spondylitis, or AS, is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. It causes inflammation and pain in the vertebrae. If left untreated, the spine experiences reduced flexibility, eventually leading to a hunched-forward posture. Other symptoms include fatigue, appetite loss, and morning stiffness. AS is caused by an abnormal response to certain bacteria in the body.
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)
Psoriatic arthritis, or PsA, is a type of inflammatory arthritis that’s associated with psoriasis. PsA causes joint inflammation and can also affect other organs in the body. Symptoms of PsA include swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints. It’s caused by an autoimmune response in the body to certain proteins.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a form of autoimmune arthritis that causes joint inflammation. It results from an abnormal immune response in which the body’s cells attack the joints. RA can be disabling and cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. A telltale symptom of RA is symmetrical joint pain, meaning it affects both sides of the body equally.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disorder that affects both men and women and can lead to fractures. The condition causes bones to become weak and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition caused by low bone density and structural changes in the bones. With this condition, there is a decrease in bone density and a change in the structure of the bone matrix — that is, the architecture of collagen fibers.
As a result, bones become less dense and more brittle. Without proper treatment, osteoporosis can lead to an increased risk of wrist, hip, and spine fractures. People with osteoporosis are also more likely to suffer from other conditions such as arthritis, low back pain, and chronic pain.
Arthritis Vs. Osteoporosis: Difference From Each Other
Although there are some similar symptoms between these two conditions, there are key differences between arthritis and osteoporosis. The following are the primary differences between the two disorders:
Nature Of The Conditions
Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder. It is known to cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It’s caused by either age-related wear and tear or an autoimmune response in the body. On the other hand, osteoporosis is a bone disorder. It can cause your bones to become weak and brittle due to low bone density and architectural changes in the bone matrix. As such, the two conditions have different underlying causes and require different treatments.
Common arthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. It can also sometimes cause fatigue, loss of appetite, and a hunched-forward posture. Osteoporosis doesn’t typically cause joint pain or inflammation; instead, it causes bones to become weak and brittle. This increases the risk of fractures in areas such as the wrists, hips, and spine.
The two conditions can also be diagnosed differently. Arthritis is typically diagnosed with a physical exam as well as imaging tests, including X-rays or MRIs. Conversely, osteoporosis is usually diagnosed using specialized scans such as DXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scans that measure bone density.
Similarities And Overlapping Factors
While the two conditions have distinct differences, there are also some similarities. For some types of arthritis (such as RA and AS), osteoporosis is a common side effect. The inflammatory response seen in these conditions can lead to bone loss as well as an increased risk of fractures. In some cases, the medications used to treat RA or AS may also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
In addition, some studies have suggested that people with arthritis are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than the general population. This may be due to age, genetics, lack of joint movement, and poor nutrition. Therefore, people with arthritis must be aware of their risk of developing osteoporosis so they can take steps to help prevent it.
Impact On Bone Health And Quality Of Life
Arthritis and osteoporosis can both have a significant impact on bone health and quality of life. Both conditions are associated with age-related changes, poor nutrition, and lack of movement in the joints. In addition, both conditions are linked to other comorbidities, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These conditions can further reduce bone health by causing additional inflammation or weakening bones further.
It’s important to note that both arthritis and osteoporosis can significantly impact the quality of life and daily activities of an individual. People with arthritis may experience challenges performing everyday tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, or even gripping objects. Osteoporosis can also reduce mobility by making bones more prone to fractures. This can lead to difficulty performing activities, such as engaging in physical activity or lifting heavy objects.
Finally, both conditions can cause fatigue, depression, and reduced quality of life due to the pain and disability associated with them.
Managing Arthritis And Osteoporosis
When it comes to managing arthritis and osteoporosis, doctors may prescribe several conventional treatment options. These include the following:
Medications for both conditions can be used to reduce inflammation, manage pain, and slow down the progression of the disease. Common medications prescribed for arthritis include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, biologic agents, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Common medications prescribed for osteoporosis include bisphosphonates, denosumab, and teriparatide.
Although these medications can help address the symptoms of both conditions, it’s important to note that they cannot cure either condition. Additionally, there are some drawbacks to using medications, such as potential side effects and long-term use.
Exercise is one of the most effective strategies for managing arthritis and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity helps to reduce pain, stiffness, and fatigue associated with both conditions. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, tai chi, or yoga can help keep joints and bones strong while providing other health benefits. For people with osteoporosis, weight-bearing exercises are crucial for maintaining bone strength and preventing fractures.
However, any exercise program must be developed and supervised by a qualified physical therapist or doctor to ensure it is tailored to your individual needs. Doing the wrong type of exercise or too much exercise can cause further damage to joints or bones.
In addition to exercise, making lifestyle changes can also help manage arthritis and osteoporosis. These include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, reducing stress levels, quitting smoking, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. It’s important to discuss any proposed lifestyle changes with your doctor before starting them.
Get A Bone Density Test
Finally, getting a bone density test is important if you are at risk for either condition. This can help detect possible osteoporosis early and inform decisions about whether medication might be necessary. For people with arthritis, a bone density test can also provide insight into how the condition affects their bones and help guide treatment choices.
How Neuragenex Approaches Arthritis and Osteoporosis Pain
Instead of using treatment solutions that mask the symptoms of arthritis and osteoporosis to provide temporary relief, our Neuragenex protocol involves a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach. This means that we address the underlying causes of arthritis and osteoporosis to help improve overall joint health and restore mobility, as well as provide long-term relief.
Our unique approach is focused on the use of drug-free, non-invasive remedies to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints. We also take a whole-person approach by addressing risk factors and lifestyle changes to prevent the progression of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Electroanalgesia is a type of electrical stimulation therapy involving the application of electrical currents to specific areas of the body. It is used to reduce swelling and inflammation in joints affected by arthritis, increase circulation, and relax the muscles. The currents target the nerves, and both block pain signals to the brain and stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
It’s worth mentioning that electroanalgesia, which is FDA-cleared, differs from TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), another e-stim treatment that uses low pulse currents (typically up to 400 pulses per second) to provide temporary relief from acute conditions. Electroanalgesia uses a much higher pulse rate (up to 10,000 pulses per second) to deliver currents deeper into the muscle and tissue, providing longer-lasting pain relief.
IV therapy involves the administration of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients directly into the bloodstream. This method allows for higher concentrations of beneficial substances to reach the body quickly, which can help reduce both pain and inflammation and improve overall joint health. At Neuragenex, we offer specialized IV infusion therapies tailored to the needs of our patients with arthritis and osteoporosis.
At Neuragenex, we understand that lifestyle changes are essential to managing arthritis and osteoporosis. That’s why our team of experts is here to provide personalized lifestyle counseling to help you make the changes necessary for improved health. This includes providing guidance on nutrition, physical activity, and stress-relief techniques.
As part of our whole-person approach to pain management, we aim to provide you with the knowledge and tools to help you manage your condition and improve your quality of life.
The best way to manage arthritis and osteoporosis is to take preventive measures. You can do this by implementing certain lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, a balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing stress levels, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can all help manage the conditions.
Here at Neuragenex, we offer lifestyle counseling as part of our whole-person approach to chronic pain management. We will help you implement lifestyle modification strategies that can help you improve your overall health and well-being.
Protect Your Bones And Joints
Arthritis and osteoporosis are two conditions that share many risk factors, comorbidities, and underlying causes. Both can have a significant impact on bone health as well as quality of life. However, they are different conditions that require different approaches to manage them. At Neuragenex, we use a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach that implements non-invasive, non-chiropractic, drug-free treatment solutions, including IV therapy, lifestyle counseling, and electroanalgesia, to address the root cause of your symptoms and help provide long-term relief from your arthritis or osteoporosis pain.