Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are bone diseases but separate conditions or different types of arthritis. Osteoporosis makes the bones very fragile and susceptible to fracture, whereas osteoarthritis is a disease that causes damage to the joints by damaging the bones and cartilage that meet there to form a joint. Both can cause back pain and height loss mostly in older people. Doctors will mostly recommend a back x-ray so that they can distinguish whether the pain is due to spinal compression fractures in osteoporosis or deterioration of the spinal joints and reduced disc space as in osteoarthritis. Many people have both these diseases at the same time and that becomes difficult for the doctor to know which disease is causing the problem. It is important to note that osteoarthritis in the spine makes the bones look denser when seen through a bone density scan than it actually is. This would need to be kept in mind when the patient goes for fracture risk assessment. So, accurate bone density scanning for older people can be a problem. Some studies say if you have osteoarthritis it is possible you might not get osteoporosis since osteoarthritis often makes the bones larger with a higher bone density which gives some strength to the bones and makes fractures very rare. Osteoporosis is treated with drugs like bisphosphonates, alendronic acid that strengthens the bones to reduce the risk of fractures in the spine. There are no drugs that prevent osteoarthritis from occurring. Exercises to build and maintain bone strength in the early years, weight bearing exercises, high impact exercises to increase the pull on the bones, these types of exercises keeps the muscles and bones strong and reduces the risk of osteoporosis in later years. Osteoarthritis exercises can help to maintain flexibility, movement in the joints and reduce extra strain that may cause damage. High impact exercises are not helpful for all types of arthritis or bone diseases. You should consult a doctor or physiotherapist for advice about the proper exercises especially if you have both these types of arthritis forms.
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