Mar 15, 2017

Defining the Relationship Between Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis


Our physicians at Carolina Arthritis Associates come across this frequent question quite often: “Do I have osteoarthritis or osteoporosis?” Although osteoporosis and osteoarthritis sound similar, these two bone conditions are actually quite different. In this post, we’ll explain the key differences between this “osteo” mix-up.

Let’s Break It Down

The term “osteo” means bone, and is typically used to as the initial word-forming element for various bone disorders within the medical community.

The term “arthritis” is applied to conditions that result in chronic inflammation of a joint or multiple joints in a patient. Arthritis is most often accompanied by pain and physical changes, including deformation of the areas surrounding the inflicted joint. In addition to pain and structural changes, the inflammation brought on by arthritis can also result in severe stiffness.

“Porosis” is used to reference the term “pores” because osteoporosis leads to bone degradation and a halt in bone growth, which develops sponge-like pores that make a body incredibly fragile. Due to the weakness of bones caused by osteoporosis, patients are at a high risk of bone fractures.


Arthritis can appear in hundreds of forms, but the most common type is Osteoarthritis. In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, there are about 27 million Americans who are affected by the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The inflammation brought on by this degenerative joint disease can lead to a breakdown and loss of cartilage within a patient’s joints.

This form of arthritis is most commonly diagnosed among women over the age of 45. However, younger people are not out of its grasp, and can still develop the disorder due to a joint injury or genetic defect within the joints.

There is an array of symptoms associated with osteoarthritis that can fortunately be treated and managed with the help of an experienced rheumatologist, such as the physicians of Carolina Arthritis. Symptoms include reduced flexibility in joints, developments of bone spurs, joints swelling, achiness and pain.

Treatment and pain management is completely possible and performed daily at our clinic! Treatments include decreasing the amount of labor that the affected joint must do, physical therapy and exercise movements, prescribed pain relief medication, dietary modifications, and heating and ice. Carolina Arthritis is fully equipped with the knowledge, training, and resources to effectively treat osteoarthritis patients and significantly reduce the level of joint pain.


Osteoporosis is a condition that decreases one’s bone density. Although the number of Americans who have osteoarthritis is high, those who have osteoporosis include a staggering 53 million people. Osteoporosis is commonly known as a silent disease because it can remain undetected in the body for many years before symptoms and fractures occur. However, there are risk factors you can look out for! These signs include having a thin or small frame, a family history of the disease, low calcium intake, severe back pain, a lack of physical activity and more.

While osteoarthritis is the process of one’s joints degenerating, osteoporosis is the process of bone loss. Because the bone mass is being significantly weakened, there is a higher risk of fractures for these patients. To be diagnosed, a bone mineral density test must be performed. This completely safe evaluation is pain-free and our facility at Carolina Arthritis has the resources and tools to perform it on patients.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoporosis, but there are various medications that can prevent and treat the symptoms associated with bone loss. There are also natural remedies that you can partake in at home, such as adding more calcium and vitamin D to your diet, participating regular exercise routines, and living an overall healthy lifestyle.

If you think you might have Osteoarthritis or Osteoporosis, please contact our physicians at Carolina Arthritis Associates. We’ll do everything we can to make these conditions a pain-free piece of your everyday life!