Osteoporosis misunderstood

September 1, 1997

Pharmaceutical Representative

Women confuse osteoporosis with arthritis, according to an urgent public health advisory from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Women confuse osteoporosis with arthritis, according to an urgent public health advisory from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Arthritis affects joints and the tissue surrounding joints, whereas osteoporosis affects bones. Osteoporosis is characterized by an exaggerated loss of bone mass and poor bone quality.

In a national telephone survey of 505 women, the NOF discovered that six of 10 women think osteoporosis has warning signs or symptoms such as stiffness, swollen joints or pain. In fact, these are symptoms of arthritis. Osteoporosis progresses without any signs or symptoms until a fracture occurs.

Women surveyed also shared the erroneous belief that treatments for the two diseases are similar. They actually differ considerably, and wrongly proceeding with treatment for one disease can unwittingly cause a progression of the other.

Those who think they may be at risk or suffering from osteoporosis should ask their physicians about the need for a bone density measurement test, the current means for assessing bone fragility and the risk of future fractures.

To obtain additional information on the difference between the two diseases, the NOF has published a brochure "What People with Arthritis Need to Know About Osteoporosis." Single copies are available at no charge by contacting NOF, P.O. Box 96616, Dept. ART, Washington, DC 20077-7456. PR