We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about where our bones connect (our joints) but not so much time thinking about the health of our bones in general. Yet, arthritis can effect our bones in many ways, here are some of them:
Your drugs - whilst corticosteroids are wonderfully effective at reducing inflammation, patients on them at a high dose for a long period are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. Some studies have also suggested that use of proton-pump inhibitor drugs (frequently prescribed if you take anti-inflammatory medication) can also increase the risk of hip fractures. However, there is still a lot of disagreement whether the research really does show a link and further studies are needed.
Your activity levels - weight bearing or resistance exercise is vital to help build bone mass. It can also strengthen muscles around joints in both inflammatory and osteoarthritis to help reduce pain, increase mobility and protect against frailty. It seems contradictory that using your joints more can help protect them but it really is true. To increase bone mass, walking, weight training, dancing and even gardening can all help. If you have osteoarthritis, you might find swimming, stretching, weight training and cycling more suitable to mobilise your joints without increasing the impact on them.
Your diet - what you eat can really make a difference to your bone health, no matter what kind of arthritis you have. Most people are familiar with the importance of calcium for their bones, but vitamin D and magnesium are also vitally important. I've written about calcium and vitamin D here and here. In terms of specific foods, soy protein has been shown to help prevent bone loss in women and oily fish (omega 3) have been found to normalise bone loss and excess production so are useful for all types of arthritis. Again, I've written about it here and there are loads of recipes to help you get plenty via this link.