Ask the Doctors: Osteoarthritis vs Osteoporosis; Lung Effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis


Q: I have osteoarthritis in my hip and fingers. My doctor told me I also have osteoporosis. They sound the same. What is the difference?

A: It’s easy to confuse these two conditions that start with “osteo.” While osteoarthritis and osteoporosis sound similar, they are distinct conditions. Both become more common with age. Osteoarthritis is caused by deterioration of cartilage, which is the substance that covers the ends of bones in joints allowing for smooth movement. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become significantly less dense and more likely to fracture. A key difference is that osteoarthritis often causes symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, while osteoporosis is painless unless a fracture occurs.

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