Osteoporosis vs. Osteoarthritis: What’s the Difference?


Osteoporosis vs. Osteoarthritis: What’s the Difference?

Because of the similarity in their names, osteoporosis vs. osteoarthritis are often confused. However, there are some significant differences in their symptoms and experiences.

Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mass, while osteoarthritis causes joint pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Many people suffer from both conditions.

While both conditions affect men and women, women are much more likely to suffer from these conditions, especially osteoporosis, which affects women four times as much as men.

If you have ever wondered what the difference is and how each could affect your life, keep reading to learn more.

Which Is Worse, Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis? 

Individual cases of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. However, because osteoporosis usually comes with a high risk of bone fractures, some medical professionals consider it to be a more serious condition than osteoarthritis.

At the same time, osteoarthritis can cause some people to feel debilitating pain that leads to joint deterioration. This could lead to a more painful life in the long term.

What Is the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis?

Even with their similar names, osteoporosis vs. osteoarthritis symptoms are different. Here is some comparative information gathered by the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance and the Centers for Disease Control.




Primary symptoms

Loss of bone density and mass

Joint pain and stiffness

Number of people affected

1 in 2 women

1 in 7 adults


10 million Americans

32.5 million Americans

Cases per year

2 million fractures



When fractures occur


% affected

80% of women

1 in 2 people, by the age of 85

Can become debilitating



Often considered a normal part of aging



Does Osteoarthritis Turn into Osteoporosis? 

Doctors and researchers have been studying the relationship between osteoarthritis and osteoporosis for decades.

While having osteoarthritis does not mean you will develop osteoporosis, having any type of arthritis does make you more susceptible to developing osteoporosis. This is partly because osteoarthritis causes daily pain, which makes physical activity more difficult. This can then cause a weakening of your bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis.

Certain things can lead to increased inflammation in your body, which could worsen your osteoarthritis or osteoporosis:

  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity

You can try to improve your osteoarthritis or osteoporosis with the help of your doctor. He or she might suggest you do the following:

  • Exercise daily
  • Increase your calcium intake
  • Increase your Vitamin D intake
  • Stop smoking

Your doctor may also suggest improving your diet for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, which would mean getting plenty of calcium, eating more vegetables, and limiting alcohol consumption.

Can Osteoporosis Lead to Osteoarthritis?

The relationship between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis is still unclear. However, many patients who have osteoporosis also have osteoarthritis.

Can You Have Osteoarthritis and Not Osteoporosis?

It is possible to have osteoarthritis and never develop osteoporosis. The reverse is also true. However, many people do have both conditions.

What Exercises Are Good for Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis?

If you are suffering from pain with osteoarthritis or are worried about injuring yourself with osteoporosis, you might be avoiding physical activity. Most doctors recommend regular exercise to strengthen your muscles, protect your bones, and keep your body moving the way it’s supposed to.

Doctors routinely recommend various types of exercises including:

  • Strength training: Strength training focuses on building muscles using free weights, your body weight, and resistance bands.
  • Weight-bearing aerobic activities: Weight-bearing aerobic activities include dancing, walking, elliptical training, low-impact aerobics, gardening, and stair climbing.
  • Flexibility exercises: Stretching your muscles after a workout session helps keep your muscles strong and flexible. Your doctor may recommend avoiding stretches that require bending at the waist or flexing the spine.
  • Stability and balance exercises: Improving your balance can help prevent falls and fractures, which is critical when you have osteoporosis. Some examples of stability exercises include tai chi and standing on one foot.

Southwest Florida Rheumatology Can Help

If you have been suffering from pain caused by osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, the doctors at Southwest Florida Rheumatology may be able to help.

We have offices in three rheumatology locations to serve you - including Riverview, Sun City, and Wesley Chapel.

Call 813-672-2243 to schedule your appointment today. 


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