Osteoporosis is a progressive condition that causes the bones to become thin and brittle, making them more prone to fractures. If you have multiple sclerosis, you may have a lower bone density (known as osteopenia) than someone without MS. This puts you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fracture.
Your bones are constantly repairing and renewing themselves, in response to a complex set of biochemical and physical triggers. The inflammation caused in MS may affect this process. If you have problems with mobility or weight bearing, your bones might not get the signals to keep them strong, and will weaken over time. If you can exercise or stay active, you will help to reduce your risk.
The drugs that you take to manage your MS symptoms and progression may also interfere with bone health. Long term exposure to steroids or antidepressants can increase your risk of osteoporosis. However, recent research suggests that Fingolimod may protect against osteoporosis among women.
Your risk of developing osteoporosis is also increased if you smoke or get an inadequate intake of vitamin D and calcium. If you are deficient in vitamin D, you could adjust your diet, get more sunshine, or talk to your doctor about supplements. If you are not deficient in vitamin D, then taking extra has not been shown to affect bone density.
- Osteoporosis International 2011;22(12):2935-2949. Summary Bone health in multiple sclerosis.
- Int J Neurosci. 2015;125(12):904-12 Summary BMI levels with MS Bone mineral density levels in adults with multiple sclerosis: a meta-analysis.
- British Medical Council Neurology 2017 4:17(1) 67 Summary High dose vitamin D supplementation does not affect biochemical bone markers in multiple sclerosis – a randomized controlled trial.