Osteoarthritis Vs Osteoporosis are they the same?

As we age we become more susceptible to many diseases and conditions.

Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are two common bone diseases that occur as people get older.

While these sound similar and it is easy to confuse them, there is a difference.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain, stiffness and often swelling in joints. This commonly affects the hips, knees, ankle and hands. This is the degeneration of hyaline cartilage between the joints. This cartilage provides cushioning between the joints to prevent the bones rubbing together. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage is worn away and pain occurs from bone-on-bone rubbing.

Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

  • Age
  • Previous damage to the joint
  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Previous bone deformities

What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone mineral density. Think about your bone as a piece of honeycomb. Under a microscope, it has a very similar structure. In people with osteoporosis, the space in the honeycomb becomes larger and larger. This means there is a decrease in bone density and bone strength. These factors place the person at risk for a fracture.

Risk factors for osteoporosis:

  • Gender – Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. This is due a decline in oestrogen levels post-menopause. Oestrogen is an important hormone that helps to build and maintain bone.
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Medication (eg long-term use of corticosteroids)

A key difference is that unlike osteoarthritis is that there are often no overt symptoms of osteoporosis. Often losing height or sustaining a fracture is usually the first indication of having osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, you can’t feel your bones getting weaker which makes early diagnosis difficult. Management of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis is similar but different.

With osteoporosis, regular weight-bearing exercises, strength training and adequate calcium intake is very important.

With osteoarthritis, medication prescribed by a doctor can help manage symptoms. However, physiotherapy has been shown to have significant benefits through improving muscle strength, balance and working towards reducing falls.

If you have either osteoarthritis or osteoporosis and are unsure what you can do, please

BOOK NOW with one of our lovely physiotherapists for guidance.

Read more….

To learn more about measuring exercise intensity, check out our blog HERE
To learn more about the importance of preventative rehab, check out our blog HERE
To learn more about bursitis, check our our blog HERE


Chen, D., Shen, J., Zhao, W., Wang, T., Han, L., Hamilton, J. L., & Im, H. J. (2017). Osteoarthritis: toward a comprehensive understanding of pathological mechanism. Bone research, 5, 16044. https://doi.org/10.1038/boneres.2016.44

Sözen, T., Özışık, L., & Başaran, N. Ç. (2017). An overview and management of osteoporosis. European journal of rheumatology, 4(1), 46–56. https://doi.org/10.5152/eurjrheum.2016.048

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