The differences between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis

Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (OA) are conditions with different causes and symptoms, but because people are often diagnosed with both, the terms are frequently used interchangeably.

While both of these conditions impact the bones, they do so in different ways. Below, we will take a look at both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis to explain the differences and similarities between each.

Osteoporosis facts

What causes osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when bone tissue is broken down faster than the body is able to replace it. This causes the bones to become thinner and more brittle, which increases the likelihood that excessive pressure or a sudden fall may lead to a fracture.

Osteoporosis signs and symptoms

Though people are often curious about osteoporosis signs and symptoms, it is known as a silent disease — it can progress for many years without detection, and often is not diagnosed until a broken bone occurs.

How common is osteoporosis?

In the United States, osteoporosis impacts about 54 million people, with women being four times more likely than men to develop it. Age is a risk factor for osteoporosis; many women develop it in the years following menopause. White and Asian women are the most likely to get osteoporosis, while Black and Hispanic women are at a lower risk.

Osteoarthritis facts

What causes osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or “wear or tear” arthritis, occurs when the cartilage inside a joint begins to break down, causing changes in the underlying bones. Once the cartilage is worn away, the bones will begin to scrape together as a person moves, which is what causes many of the symptoms associated with the condition.

Osteoarthritis signs and symptoms

Osteoarthritis is localized within the joints, so symptoms are typically specific to the area impacted. The symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness in the joints, bone spurs, inflammation, joint pain, and a decreased range of motion.

How common is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, impacting over 32.5 million adults in the United States. It can affect the hands, hips, neck, and lower back, but knee osteoarthritis is the most common type. Risk factors include joint injury and overuse, with women over 50 being more likely to develop the condition than men.

Depending on the severity of the condition, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can significantly impact a person’s quality of life — but finding better treatment options is possible. Learn more about clinical trial opportunities by using the button below.