From medications to lifestyle factors, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should be aware of the factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The connection between RA and osteoporosis is becoming clearer. Studies have shown having RA significantly increases chances of developing the bone condition.
RA Bone Detorioration & Osteoporosis
In a previous article, the topic of discussion was RA and bone health. Osteoporosis is a part of bone health for #RAWarriors. However, there are different bone issues that are particularly relevant as you age.
Studies have shown that RA inflammation not only damages the joints but the bones that are connected to the joints. Researchers are better understanding the intricacies of the musculoskeletal system as well as what RA can do that system.
Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis (GIOP)
Medications that treat RA can also have an impact on bone health. The anti-inflammatory drug class of glucocorticoids—a steroid hormone—is administered in many cases to reduce symptoms. Users inhale or take the medication orally for inflammation, allergic reactions, and autoimmune therapies.
Studies have shown that glucocorticoids in high doses can inhibit bone formation. #RAWarriors that experience glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIOP) begin to see the bone loss in the first few months of exposure to the drug. Even in low doses, glucocorticoids increase the risk of fractures of the spine and hip.
Flares, Inactivity, & Osteoporosis
When #RAWarriors experience flares, it takes a while for the flare to complete its course. But it also takes time for #RAWarriors to recover. Flares are not easy on the body and make it difficult to jump right back into moderate to strenuous activities. #RAWarriors who experience monthly flares—or even more—might begin to develop osteoporosis because of inactivity.
Muscles, tissues, and bones are constantly forming and developing. When the body has healthy muscles, the body has healthy bones. Strength training is essential to developing and maintaining good bone health. Activities that get the body moving and building muscle play a part in potentially preventing osteoporosis.
Reduced Vitamin D Intake and RA Susceptibility
Another unique connection between RA and osteoporosis is vitamin D. Females, especially, need to get as much calcium and vitamin D in their diets when they are young. Vitamin D contributes to the effective absorption of calcium. In the 30’s and thereafter, the body has a more difficult time absorbing calcium.
Vitamin D can be ingested, but people also get it from the sun. A new study shows that individuals who have or had a vitamin D deficiency at an early are more prone to developing autoimmune disorders. Consequently, this leads to an increased chance of getting osteoporosis and perhaps shows that autoimmune susceptibility starts on an environmental level.
Preventative Care for Bone Health
For parents, it’s essential to ensure children are getting enough calcium-rich foods and vitamin D from sunlight and foods. A diet full of dark leafy greens, healthy sources of dairy (kefir milk and yogurt are excellent choices), and broccoli will deliver a healthy amount of calcium to the body.
For adults who are #RAWarriors, body strengthening activities play an important role in osteoporosis prevention and maintenance. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation are also great treatment options. Intravenous calcium therapies are available and often prescribed for adults with calcium deficiencies and osteoporosis.