Health&Fitness Talk

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Osteoporosis Osteoporosis
Where osteoarthritis affects the cartilage in the joints, osteoporosis affects the bone, more specifically the density of the bone(s). Osteoporosis literally means "porous bone". Osteoporosis... Osteoporosis

by Kimberley Allen R.N.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me “well, isn’t osteoporosis and osteoarthritis pretty much the same thing?”  Of course my answer is alswys an emphatic NO.  The only thing similar about them is the “osteo” in their names.  Osteo means bone.  There are over 100 types of arthritis and osteoporosis is not one of them.
Where osteoarthritis affects the cartilage in the joints, osteoporosis affects the bone, more specifically the density of the bone(s).
Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”. Osteoporosis affectsover 55% of the people in the US 50years and older.  It affects women more than men, approximately 80% of all diagnosed cases are women.  There are over 250,000 hip fractures and
700,000 vertebral fractures in the US every year that are caused by osteoporosis.
There are 3 classifications of osteoporosis.
1. Primary type 1 is the most common in women after menopause.
2. Primary type 2 also known as senile osteoporosis develops after age 75 in both men and women.
3. Secondary osteoarthritis can develop at any age and affects men and women equally as it resultss from a history of chronic disease or illness and long term use of certain medications like prednisone.
There are no symptoms related to osteoporosis.  It  is usually diagnosed after a fall or injury that results in a bone fracture or during regular screening.  Most experts recommend initial screening through a bone density scan for women starting at age 65 unless there are other factors like early menopause or a pre-existing condition.
Measuring bone mineral density (BMD) is the most accurate way of diagnosing osteoporosis.  The best way to measure the BMD is through a DEXA scan.  The World Health Organization has developed a method of “scoring” the BMD known as the T-score.  Normal is considered to be between 0-1, low bone mass has a score between 1-2.5, osteoporosis scores are anything over 2.5.  The T-score as seen in the DEXA scan can diagnose osteoporosis but it doesn’t predict fractures.  It predicts the risk like the blood pressure predicts the risk of stroke. As with the blood pressure measurement if it is elevated there are
measures that can be taken to prevent fractures.
Prevention is alwys the best approach.  Although there is no cure for the aging process and our genes determine the potential height and weight of our skeletons there are life style factors that influence the health of our bones, especially diet and exercise.  Regular exercise is crucial to improving and maintaining your bone health and density.  The current recommendations for adults is 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week.  Weight bearing exercises like walking and resistance exercises are especially beneficial in preventing osteoporosis.
Eating a healthy well balanced diet is recommended for all to help prevent many conditions.  Calcium and vitamin D are essential to improving and mantaing bone health.  Both can be found in foods that we include in our diet, like dairy products and green leafy vegetables and of course moderate and safe exposure to sunlight as well as supplements.
There are numerous medications available today to treat osteoporosis, however making lifestyle changes are also a partof any treatment plan for osteoporosis,  Fractures can be prevented and the disease managed if you follow the treatmentplan including eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at