Are Osteoarthrisis and Osteoporosis the same thing?

Are Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis the same thing? 

This is a question we get all the time in clinic, and though they sound similar, they are different! 

If you have one of these disease it is important to know which one because the treatment and lifestyle modifications are different depending on whether you have Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis. 

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis.

It is a degenerative disease that results in damage to the tissues of the joint and often affects hips, knees, hands and the spine. History of injury or surgery to a joint can increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis. 

X-Rays can show the presence of and severity of osteoarthritis. It’s important to remember that the severity shown in scans does not dictate severity of symptoms experienced. Someone whose X-Ray shows mild osteoarthritis can feel a lot of pain, and someone whose X-Rays show severe osteoarthritis may experience little or no pain. 

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joint(s) affected. Symptoms can vary throughout the day as well as day to day. 

While osteoarthritis can not be "cured", symptoms can be managed through exercise and medication and in some cases, joint replacement surgery may be a treatment option.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by the loss of bone density. Low bone density increases the risk for fractures.

The loss of bone density happens over a number of years, and typically shows no symptoms. Osteoporosis is often detected after a fracture occurs or when bone density is tested. 

Bone density is measured using a Bone Density scan. T - scores  (established using bone density) measure the degree of bone loss, and the severity of osteoporosis. For more information check out our blog on T-scores. 

There is no single known cause for osteoporosis. When bone loss is due to medication or medical conditions it is called secondary osteoporosis.

The primary concern with osteoporosis is the increased risk for fractures.The focus of treatment is to maintain bone density, and reduce the risk of falls which can lead to fractures.

Exercise, diet, lifestyle modification and medication are the primary forms of treatments for osteoporosis. 

How do Exercise, Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis fit Together?

Though there are many differences between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, one thing they have in common is that exercise should be included as part of treatment! The approach and focus of exercise programs will vary from person to person, even when they have the same diagnosis. Recommendations need to be catered to each person based on disease severity, symptoms, fracture risk, goals  and other lifestyle factors.

Here’s how exercise prescription may differ with each disease: 


  • Exercise prescription will differ based on the individuals bone density and disease severity 
  • Modifying exercises and activities to reduce risk of falling 
  • Full body strengthening 
  • Balance exercises
  • Postural exercises 
  • Weight bearing aerobic exercise such as walking 
  • Avoiding/limiting certain movements such as spinal flexion (rounding forward)
  • Certain activities and sports may need to be modified 

To learn more about exercise and Osteoporosis check out our recent webinar - Get Fit to the Bone -  in our video library.


  • Strengthening based on the joints affected (ie: hips or knees the focus is on leg and hip strengthening)
  • Motion is Lotion - general activities and exercises that don't increase pain
  • Non weight bearing activity such as Hydrotherapy 

Two people who have the same diagnosis can have different symptoms, severity and experiences which is why programs need to be catered to the individual for best results! 

Our Physiotherapists and Kinesiologist are here to help develop an individualized exercise program for you so you can move well, live well and be well!

For more information on Osteoporosis please check out Osteoporosis Canada:

For more information on Osteoarthritis please check out Osteoarthritis Society of Canada: