Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become weaker or brittle. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints.

In some cases, osteoporosis can be a result of arthritis if you don’t get the physical activity you need to keep your bones strong. In other cases, having certain arthritis types makes you more likely to have osteoporosis.

Keep reading to find out more about the links between arthritis and osteoporosis as well as what you can do to keep yourself in motion with these conditions.

Several different arthritis types exist, and researchers have linked many arthritis types with increased osteoporosis risk. Here are some types and their association:

  • Osteoarthritis. The most common arthritis type, osteoarthritis results when protective cartilage wears down and your bone starts to rub against bone.
    • Increasing age is a risk factor for both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
    • Doctors have attempted to identify biomarkers or cell indicators that contribute to both conditions. This research is in its earlier stages but shows promise.
  • Psoriatic arthritis. This immune-related arthritis form can cause visible psoriasis plaques on the body.
    • Studies have been mixed about whether there’s a connection between osteoporosis and psoriatic arthritis.
    • Doctors do know that people with psoriatic arthritis have risk factors for decreased bone mineral density, such as low vitamin D levels, chronic corticosteroid use, and chronic inflammation.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune arthritis form where the body attacks the lining of the joints.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis have a strong link. About 60 to 80 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients also have osteoporosis.

Doctors have also connected inflammation to both osteoporosis and arthritis. Inflammation can cause tissues in the body to break down faster. Certain medical conditions and habits can speed up inflammation. These include:

Preventing these conditions whenever possible can help you avoid or reduce their effects.

Treatments for osteoporosis and arthritis forms involve strengthening the bones and managing arthritis symptoms and pain. For osteoporosis, doctors will often recommend supplementing calcium and vitamin D. These two substances encourage bone growth in the body.

Doctors often prescribe medications to promote bone growth or prevent bone breakdown. Examples include bisphosphonates, monoclonal antibodies, and artificial parathyroid hormone. If you have severe osteoporosis, your doctor may talk with you about taking these medications.

Treatments for arthritis will depend on the arthritis type you have. Managing your pain with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, may also help.

You can do lots of activities to manage your osteoporosis and osteoarthritis on a daily basis. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Exercise daily (with your doctor’s approval). Focusing on stretching, range of motion, and building muscle will help. You can do this by using resistance bands, swimming, and participating in low-impact aerobics.
  • Don’t perform exercises known to increase your risk for spinal fractures. These include exercises that involve lifting heavy weights, excessive twisting of the spine, or bending forward from your waist.
  • Increase your calcium intake. There are better-known sources of calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. But there are also sources, such as:
    • spinach
    • tofu
    • sweet potatoes
    • broccoli
    • soy milk
    • beans
  • Increase your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D helps your body use calcium more efficiently. Foods high in vitamin D include fish (like salmon, herring, and canned tuna), egg yolks, and mushrooms. There are also many foods that have vitamin D added to them, such as cereal, milk, and orange juice.
  • Stop smoking if you do smoke. Quitting smoking can significantly improve your bone health.
  • Choose anti-inflammatory foods whenever possible. Researchers have specifically identified these as anti-inflammatory foods that may help people with osteoporosis:
    • garlic
    • ginger
    • onion
    • turmeric
    • green tea
    • black tea
    • pepper

Diets high in fruits, unsaturated fats, lean proteins, and vegetables can also help people with various arthritis forms.

If at any time, you experience symptoms that suddenly get worse, call your doctor.

Many practices that benefit osteoporosis also benefit osteoarthritis, and vice versa. However, there’s at least one known exception: using corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids are medications that help reduce inflammation. One example is prednisone. Some people with arthritis forms, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, may take steroids to reduce symptoms, such as swelling and stiffness.

However, corticosteroids can impair the hormones that encourage bone formation. If a person takes steroids on a chronic (long-term) basis, they are at an increased risk for osteoporosis. Chronic corticosteroid use is the most common cause of osteoporosis in young people.

For this reason, it’s important to talk with your doctor about taking the shortest possible steroid course to manage your arthritis. However, you shouldn’t discontinue any medication without contacting your doctor first.

If you have risk factors for osteoporosis or arthritis, including a family history, or are just concerned about having these conditions, talk with a medical professional.

You shouldn’t have to live with pain or affected mobility. Preventing or managing the conditions earlier will usually result in a better outlook.

Changes in the appearance of your joints, joint swelling, or even having joints that are hot to the touch can all indicate arthritis. Osteoporosis often does not cause symptoms until you experience its effects, such as a bone fracture or breakage.

Osteoarthritis has strong connections with osteoporosis. Researchers are establishing more links between osteoporosis and other arthritis types. Maintaining healthy habits can help keep you mobile with both conditions.

You should speak with a medical professional if pain or problems moving are affecting your ability to complete daily activities.