Osteoporosis And Inflammatory Arthritis

August 2021

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the condition of weakening bones. Weak bones can become fragile and brittle, leading to a high risk of fractures and breaks.

Osteoporosis occurs when the loss of minerals, such as calcium, is quicker than what the the body can make. This decreases bone density. Many people remain unaware they have osteoporosis, until they suffer a fracture or a fall. This is why it is important to prevent osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis

There are several risk factors for developing osteoporosis, such as: 

  • Family history
  • Lifestyle
    • low calcium intake
    • lack of physical activity
    • excessive alcohol consumption
    • smoking
    • vitamin D deficiency
  • Medical history
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • medications, such as those to treat lupus and asthma (e.g. glucocorticosteroids)
    • menopause

Link between osteoporosis and inflammatory arthritis 

Osteoporosis is more common among people living with inflammatory forms of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Other forms may also include psoriatic arthritis (PsA), lupus, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and reactive arthritis.

Inflammation in the joints causes damage to the bone surrounding the joints, as well as bone in other areas of the body. Bone mineralisation is needed to build and maintain healthy bones. Loss of bone mineralisation due to inflammation results in bone loss, which increases the risk of osteoporosis.  

People with inflammatory arthritis are also at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because of medication (use of steriods) and inactivity due to joint pain and swelling.

Your GP or rheumatologist will monitor and discuss this with you, and together, you can determine the best treatment option to manage your arthritis and protect your bones.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed? 

Osteoporosis can be diagnosed through a bone density test, also known as a Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan.

The test measures your bone mineral density by giving you a T-score which ranges between normal (higher than -1), osteopenia (low bone density) (between -1 and -2.5) and osteoporosis (-2.5 or lower).

Prior to conducting a bone density test, your GP will also look at risk factors such as your family and medical history, as well as your lifestyle, which may increase your risk of osteoporosis and fractures. 

Related articles:

3 simple tips to manage your osteoporosis

Falls and arthritis - Tips for keeping on your feet


Arthritis & Osteoporosis Western Australia: Osteoporosis Diagnosis, Prevention, Risk Factors and Treatment https://www.arthritiswa.org.au/osteoporosis/  

What is osteoporosis? https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/osteoporosis/ 

Inflammatory Arthritis and Bone Health https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/more-about/inflammatory-arthritis-bone-loss  

International Osteoporosis Foundation: Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoporosis Patient Resource https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/sites/iofbonehealth/files/2019-06/2017_RheumatoidArthritis_FactSheet_English.pdf



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