Osteopenia: A Complete Overview of Osteopenia

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Aug 6, 2013 | Last Updated: Aug 11, 2018


What is Osteopenia?

This is a condition where your bone density is lower than normal but not as low as in the case of osteoporosis. Osteopenia is considered a predecessor for osteoporosis. This means if you continue to lose bones you will develop osteoporosis

Why do Young Women Break Bones?

Women generally have a high risk of breaking bones because their bones are thinner than men’s bones. Young women will sometimes eat little food because of the worries of gaining weight.

These make them thin and have unusual patterns of the menstrual cycle. The thinness also causes the levels of estrogen to drop which can affect their bone health. Young women will sometimes have a low peak bone mass; this means they have less bone mass. The lesser the bone mass the higher the chances of having bone loss.

Osteopenia Bone

Osteoporosis affects about half of Americans over the age of 50 – Study

A recent survey by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) shows that almost half of Americans who are above the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. The survey showed that men and women above the age of 45 have little or no concern over their bone health. This indicates low awareness of bone health and could be the reason behind the high number of people living with osteoporosis in America.

The survey showed that Americans who are 45 years or older are only concerned about the impact a broken bone will have on their daily life and activities. The survey further shows that many Americans cannot link breaking bones with osteoporosis. This is alarming considering that it is estimated that one out of two women and one out of four men above the age of 50 are likely to break a bone.

The survey showed that Americans who are 45 years and above are not aware that fracture and a break is the same thing. A fracture is a term used by medical practitioners to refer to a bone that has broken.

The survey revealed that six out of ten women and nine out of ten men have never discussed the risk of breaking a bone with their doctors. Many Americans of age 45 and above have never had a bone density test, the statistics showed that 4 out of ten women and eight out of ten men haven’t had a bone density test.

Despite the fact that most of American health insurance plans cover for bone density test many Americans have never initiated a discussion about their bone health with their healthcare providers.

Can Osteopenia be Diagnosed using a Bone Density Scan?

Not all bone density scans can diagnose osteopenia. A Standard X-ray cannot detect small amount of bone loss. The only scan which is capable of detecting osteoporosis is the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This type of scan can detect a bone loss as little as 2%

How to Manage Osteopenia?

Stop Osteoporosis

You can prevent osteopenia from developing to osteoporosis by doing the following:

  • Taking a diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin DCalcium is one of the most important nutrients for your bones. Calcium can be found in milk, calcium-fortified foods, and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and collard green. You make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. The sun is one of the major sources of vitamin D. vitamin D is also found in few foods such as salmon, sardines, herring, cod liver oil, mackerel, egg, and tuna.
  • Exercising – There are many types of exercises you can do to prevent your bones from having low mineral density. These exercises will make your bones strong and less prone to fractures. Examples of these exercises include jogging, running, dancing, lifting weights, tai chi, and yoga.
  • Taking Some Medication – Medicine such as raloxifene, bisphosphates, and hormone replacement can be helpful in treating osteopenia.

What Research is being Done?

Sundeep Khosla, a professor of medicine at Mayo clinic, Rochester, and other scientists are conducting a research on imaging and computer techniques. If this research turns out successful it will be able to shed more light on the structure of the bone.

This will help them come up with bone models that can help the researchers predict patients who are likely to have fractures. An example of such a technique is the computed tomography (CT) which can be able to scan the spine and hip.

Researchers are also developing tools called biomarkers. These tools can measure the rate of bone remodeling that can be found in blood and urine. These tools with the help of advanced image techniques will help the researchers know more about osteoporosis.

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