Healthy Living

People with Rheumatoid Arthritis at Higher Risk for Osteoporosis

People with Rheumatoid Arthritis at Higher Risk for Osteoporosis

Rheumatoid arthritis can be incredibly detrimental on the body by itself, but it can also leave patients at a higher risk for even worse conditions. Recent studies have shown that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones.

Osteoporosis can lead to the bones becoming weak and more susceptible to breaking, and can also cause inflammation and pain.

We are going to look at why RA patients are susceptible to osteoporosis, how and why RA can affect the bones, and what RA patients can do to strengthen their bones and reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis.

The study

The Journal of Rheumatology published a single-center study focusing on the bone mineral testing of 304 adults with RA and 903 without. The study found that out of the 304 RA patients, 30 percent met the criteria for having some form of osteoporosis. Out of the 903 without RA, only 17.4% met the criteria for osteoporosis. It should be noted that the disproportionate sample sizes could have skewed the results, but it is safe to say that RA patients have a somewhat increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Other factors

While RA increases the risk of osteoporosis slightly, certain factors can compound with RA to make the risk of osteoporosis even higher. These factors include increased age or a family history of osteoporosis. Women are also known to have a slightly higher risk of osteoporosis, especially for those in a postmenopausal state.

How does RA affect the bones?

Even without looking at studies or clinical trials, researchers already know that RA does have some significant effects on the bones. The main way that RA affects the bones is by producing cytokines, proteins that cause inflammation of the body. Cytokines not only cause inflammation, but they can also stint bone formation.

Another reason that RA can increase the risk of osteoporosis is because RA patients tend to move around less than those without RA. Moving around allows the body to bear its weight, which sends signals to the brain to strengthen bones. A sedentary lifestyle sends fewer of these signals to the brain, which leads to weaker bones in general.

But it doesn't stop there. Another issue with RA patients may be the medications they take. Many of these medications end up thinning the bones, making them weaker and brittle. Other medications may cause other side effects like reduced bone formation and a reduction in the bodies absorption of calcium. All of these factors combined can really take a toll on the bones, and could lead to conditions such as osteoporosis in the future.

How to minimize risk of osteoporosis

If you have rheumatoid arthritis or are at risk of developing it, you could also be at risk for osteoporosis. The easiest way to reduce this risk is to take steps to strengthen your bones.

Read on to learn about precautions you can take to prevent development of osteoporosis. Preventing osteoporosis is much easier than treating it!