Osteoporosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: an update in epidemiology, pathogenesis, and fracture prevention

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Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disabling disease characterized by a symmetrical articular involvement due to ongoing joint inflammation, if left insufficiently treated. Local and generalized bone loss is one of the main extra-articular complications of RA and leads to an increased risk for fragility fractures, which further impair functional ability, quality of life, and life expectancy. Therefore, there is an urgent need for good fracture risk management in the vulnerable RA patient. Areas covered: The authors review: the epidemiology and pathophysiology (i.e. risk factors) of osteoporosis (OP), fracture, and vertebral fracture risk assessment, the effects of anti-rheumatic drugs on bone loss, pharmacological treatment of OP in RA including both bisphosphonates (BP) and newer drugs including anti-resorptives and osteoanabolic treatment options. Expert opinion: Patients with active RA have elevated bone resorption and local bone loss. Moreover, these patients are at increased risk for generalized bone loss, vertebral and non-vertebral fractures. Since general risk factors (such as low BMI, fall risk) and RA-related factors play a role, optimal fracture prevention in RA patients is based on optimal diagnostics based on both of these factors, and on the use of adequate non-medical and medical treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalExpert opinion on pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Fracture prevention
  • osteoporosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis

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