Does having ankylosing spondylitis increase my risk of osteoporosis?

Yes, ankylosing spondylitis does increase your risk of osteoporosis — a condition that causes bones to thin and weaken as they become more porous inside.

Decreased bone mineral density is a common complication of ankylosing spondylitis. This is especially true for those who've had the condition for a long time. But some studies suggest it can also affect those who've been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis for a shorter time — less than 10 years.

Although you can't change that you have ankylosing spondylitis, you can take steps to help reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

To help keep your bones strong:

  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes most days.
  • Eat a balanced diet of nutritious foods, including adequate calcium and vitamin D.
  • Don't smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol in your diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain a healthy posture.
  • Take steps to prevent falls, such as wearing low-heeled shoes.
  • Have regular physical exams.

Studies also suggest that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers — sometimes used to treat ankylosing spondylitis — may help maintain or increase bone density in the spine and hip. However, treatment with these medications doesn't appear to decrease vertebral fractures. More research is needed.

Feb. 22, 2023 See more Expert Answers