Difference between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis!

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At early stage, osteoporosis is commonly found without any symptom. Therefore it is often called as a silent disease. The good news, many times it is preventable condition. But if it goes undetected, there is no symptom for many years until a facture occurs.

Once the bones have been affected or weakened by the disease, symptoms may occur such as:

  1. Back pain. A collapsed /fractured vertebra is usually the cause of this symptom.
  2. Over time, you may experience loss of height.
  3. Easier to have bone fracture (much easier than expected).
  4. A stopped posture.

As mentioned before, osteoporosis is linked to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). According to many studies, people with RA are at high risk of having bone loss and fracture. And there are some reasons of why osteoporosis is pretty common in those with RA.

In RA, the inflamed synovium in the involved joint can affect other parts of the joint, including bones. This may lead to osteoporosis.

It seems that RA itself has a direct contribution in increasing the risk of osteoporosis. But this is not the single reason.

Limited range of motion in the involved joint and other symptoms of RA (particularly such as joint pain and stiffness) can lead to inactivity. And if you have lack of physical activity, this can raise the risk of having osteoporosis, too.

Furthermore, some medications for RA also carry the risk of developing bone loss. For example, the use of glucocorticoid is pretty common for RA. Unfortunately, it also could trigger a significant bone loss.

So what is the difference? At advanced stage, there is no significant difference between osteoporosis associated with RA and another one that has nothing to do with RA.

But typically, bone loss linked to RA is usually most pronounced in sites immediately around the involved joints.

Bone loss due to RA may also be followed with other systemic symptoms of RA such as fatigue, weight loss or appetite loss, and fever as noted before. Again, systemic means that RA can cause widespread inflammation and affect overall health! See more rheumatoid arthritis symptoms!

The treatment plan is dependent on the severity. For osteoporosis linked to RA, the treatment is not only focused on the bone loss, but also controlling the systemic inflammatory process of RA.

Citations /references:

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/basics/risk-factors/con-20019924
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000431.htm


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