Similar Names, Very Different Conditions

Osteoporosis is a major health threat for 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women. In osteoporosis, there is a loss of bone tissue that leaves bones less dense and prone to fracture. It can result in a loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. Osteoporosis can impair a person’s ability to walk and can cause prolonged or permanent disability.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease that can often be prevented. However, if undetected, it can progress for many years without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a bone mineral density (BMD) test, a safe and painless way to detect low bone density.
Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:
  • Thinness or small frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Being postmenopausal or having had early menopause
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Prolonged use of certain drugs, such as prednisone
  • Low calcium intake
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
Although there is no cure, several drugs and medication options are approved for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. In addition, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, regular weight-bearing exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can prevent or lessen the effects of the disease.


Osteoarthritis is a painful, degenerative joint disease that often involves the hips, knees, neck, lower back, or the small joints of the hands. Osteoarthritis usually develops in joints that are injured by repeated overuse in the performance of a particular job or a favorite sport or from carrying around excess body weight. Eventually this injury or repeated impact thins or wears away the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in the joint so that the bones rub together, causing a grating sensation. Joint flexibility is reduced, bony spurs develop, and the joint swells. Usually, the first symptom a person has with osteoarthritis is pain that worsens following exercise or immobility.

Similar Names, Very Different Conditions…

This article was submitted by Pat France, MSRN MEMBER and a Senior.