Cancel
Nearby: Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

The Osteoporosis-RA Connection

By

Paige Greenfield

Was this helpful? (4)
This content is selected and managed by the Healthgrades editorial staff and is brought to you by an advertising sponsor.
x

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Diets and Foods for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Each new diet fad claims to cure any number of chronic conditions, including RA. But what should you really eat?

The Osteoporosis-RA Connection

People with RA are more likely to develop osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become less dense and more likely to fracture.
doctor holding a model of a foot skeleton

Research has found that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are more likely to develop osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become less dense and more likely to fracture.

Here are some reasons these two conditions may be connected:

  • Medication: Many people with RA take a type of medication called a glucocorticoid. Examples include prednisone (such as Deltasone and Orasone), prednisolone (Prelone), dexamethasone (Decadron and Hexadrol), and cortisone (Cortone Acetate). These medications help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. However, these drugs interfere with healthy bone metabolism and can lead to bone loss.

  • Inactivity: When you're in pain or lose joint function because of RA, walking and other forms of exercise become difficult to do. However, physical activity is essential for maintaining strong bones. Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

  • RA itself: Bone loss can occur due to RA. The areas surrounding the joints that RA has affected are most likely to lose bone.

How to keep your bones strong

At Your Appointment

Questions to Ask About Osteoporosis

Having RA doesn't mean you'll automatically develop osteoporosis. Here are steps you can take to ward off the disease:

  • Consider supplements. If you take glucocorticoid medication, also take daily calcium and vitamin D supplements. You may need at least 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium and 400 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Ask your physician how much is right for you.

  • Exercise. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking and weight training, are best for healthy bones. Exercise can also maintain joint mobility and improve your balance and flexibility, which reduce your risk of falling and fracturing a bone.

  • Quit smoking. The tobacco habit can interfere with your body's ability to absorb calcium from food.

  • Ask about testing. Talk with your doctor about whether a bone density test is right for you. For appropriate individuals, the test helps assess the risk for osteoporosis or detect the condition before it causes a bone fracture.

Medications help manage osteoporosis

If you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are several types of medications to treat the disease. These drugs may slow or stop bone loss, or even help rebuild bone. However, like most medications, they can cause side effects. One class of osteoporosis medications, called bisphosphonates, has been associated with a rare type of thigh bone fracture. If you take bisphosphonates, tell your doctor if you feel an unusual ache or pain in your hip or thigh, which could indicate that something is wrong. Still, bisphosphonates have been shown to reduce the risk of fractures caused by osteoporosis. Speak with your doctor about the possible risks of these and any other medications you take, and be sure to let him or her know if you experience any abnormal symptoms.

Was this helpful? (4)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 28, 2017

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Possible Fracture Risk With Osteoporosis Drugs. FDA. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm229127.htm
  2. Arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Arthritis/arthritis_rheumatic_qa.asp#h
  3. What People with Rheumatoid Arthritis Need to Know About Osteoporosis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Conditions_Behaviors/osteoporosis_ra.asp
  4. Osteoporosis Medicines: What You Need to Know. National Osteoporosis Foundation. http://www.nof.org/aboutosteoporosis/managingandtreating/medicinesneedtoknow
  5. Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/gi-osteoporosis.asp

You Might Also Like

4 Solutions for Stubborn RA Pain

RA pain can get you down. Everyday tasks like opening jars, washing your hands or using the remote control almost make you wince before you start.

Share via Email

PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

Finding the Right Treatment for RA

NEXT ARTICLE:

4 Solutions for Stubborn RA Pain

Up Next

4 Solutions for Stubborn RA Pain