Your joint health becomes increasingly more important as you age. Both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are prevalent conditions among those aged 50 and up. While there are a few similarities between these bone-related disorders, they have distinct challenges, diagnoses, and treatments. We’ll help you understand the differences between osteoarthritis and osteoporosis by breaking down their symptoms, causes, and treatments.
While both conditions affect your bones and overall musculoskeletal health, there are a few differences between osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease while osteoporosis is a condition related to reduced bone density.
One key difference between the two is that a person experiences chronic joint pain and stiffness with osteoarthritis. With osteoporosis, which is often referred to as a “silent disease,” a person will often not know they have the condition until they break a bone.
Similarities between osteoarthritis and osteoporosis include who it affects. Both conditions have a higher risk of development in women, older adults aged 50 and up, and those who have a genetic predisposition to the diseases.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that breaks down the joint and surrounding tissue. It’s most common to experience osteoarthritis in your hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck. As the joints wear down, it can be difficult to move around comfortably. You can experience pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion with osteoarthritis.
Osteoporosis is a bone density disorder characterized by reduced bone mass. This weakening of the bone leads to an increased risk of broken bones.
Although people who have osteoarthritis or osteoporosis both experience painful symptoms, the physical signs of these bone-related conditions are different.
Indications of osteoarthritis develop slowly over the course of a person’s life. Symptoms include:
Oftentimes people with osteoporosis are unaware they have the condition until they break a bone. Still, there are a few symptoms to look out for with osteoporosis:
You’re more at risk for both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis if you are genetically predisposed or over the age of 50. Additional causes of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis differ.
Factors that contribute to osteoarthritis include aging, wear-and-tear on the joints over time, genetic predisposition, and joint injuries. People who play physically intense sports or experienced accidents are more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis. Like osteoporosis, the condition is also more likely to impact women than men.
Factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis include aging (age-related bone density loss), hormonal changes, and a lack of bone-enriching nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, especially postmenopause, since the dramatic change in hormone levels can trigger a loss in bone density.
Multiple treatments are often recommended to effectively and holistically manage osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
With osteoarthritis, treatment involves a variety of measures that manage pain and make movement more comfortable. Treatments may include:
Osteoporosis treatments help to strengthen bone density and minimize the risk of fractures. Treatments may include:
Yes, Medicare will cover certain treatments for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis if deemed medically necessary. In some cases, Medicare coverage for osteoporosis includes additional services for women experiencing the condition as it relates to hormonal changes.
Both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage will help pay for the cost of physical therapy and surgery. If it’s medically necessary, there is no limit on physical therapy sessions covered each year.
A Medicare Part D plan covers prescription medications. This includes medications for pain management, bone-strengthening, anti-inflammatory, and any other medications associated with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Because Medicare coverage varies, it’s always important to check your specific insurance coverage for details like how much services and medications will cost.