What is Osteopenia? What are the Causes, Symptoms and Treatment?

Osteopenia is bone density that is below normal but not as low as osteoporosis. Bone density is a measurement of how dense and strong bones are compared to normal peak density. You can find more information below.

What is osteopenia?

Osteopenia , also known as low bone density, refers to bone density that is lower than normal bone density but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis . Bone density is a measurement of how strong bones are. If your bone density is lower than normal bone density, it is possible to talk about an osteopenia condition here. Having low bone density is also a serious risk factor for osteoporosis.

Causes of osteopenia

As people age, bones naturally become thinner because from middle age, existing bone cells are absorbed by the body faster than new bone. When this occurs, bones become weak, losing minerals, weight, and structure, increasing the risk of fracture.

After all people reach peak bone density at around age 30, they begin to gradually lose bone mass. The thicker your bones are at around age 30, the later it takes to develop osteopenia or osteoporosis.

Some people with low bone density may not have bone loss . Naturally, these people may not be aware that they have lower bone density. Low bone density can also occur as a result of one or more other conditions, disease processes, or treatments.

Women have lower bone density than men and are more likely to develop osteoporosis. This is because women have a lower bone density and the loss of bone mass is accelerated during menopause due to hormonal changes.

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Risk factors for osteopenia

In both men and women, the following things can contribute to low bone density:

  • Eating disorders or metabolic problems that do not allow the body to take in and use enough vitamins and minerals
  • Medicines used to treat a number of conditions, including chemotherapy or asthma
  • Radiation therapy or exposure to radiation

Having someone in your family with low bone density, being thin, white or Asian, having limited physical activity, smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also increase the risk of low bone density and eventually osteoporosis.

Symptoms of osteopenia

Osteopenia and osteoporosis by themselves do not cause pain or movement problems. Therefore, osteopenia may go unnoticed and be diagnosed late. A common symptom of osteopenia is loss of height. Most people lose an average of two centimeters from their adult height as they age. But losing more than that can be the first clue to an underlying bone problem.

Fractures or weakened bones are the biggest indication that there may be an abnormality in the skeletal bone. If you’re over 50 and you’re short and have broken bones, you should have a bone density test to screen for osteopenia and osteoporosis.

When should you see a doctor?

If you are worried about low bone density and osteoporosis and you have symptoms that make you suspicious, it is a good idea to see a doctor.

Diagnosis of osteopenia

Osteopenia usually does not cause any symptoms. This makes it difficult to diagnose bone problems unless you have a bone mineral density test.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends getting tested if you experience any of the following:

  • If you are a woman 65 years or older
  • If you are a postmenopausal woman age 50 or older
  • If you are a woman of menopausal age and are at high risk of breaking your bones
  • If you are a woman younger than 65 who has already gone through menopause
  • If you are a male over 50 with a genetic predisposition
  • If you have had a broken bone after age 50
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Bone scan tests are painless and rapid. This test measures how dense or thick your bones are using X-rays.

information for men

Experts recommend that all men aged 65 and over have a bone density test. If you are at high risk for fractures caused by osteoporosis, routine screening should begin sooner.

Many men do not consider themselves to be at risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis because these are generally considered to be the conditions of older women. Because men have a higher peak bone density than women in middle age, low bone density and osteoporosis tend to occur in men at greater age.

But aside from the hormonal change seen in women as they go through menopause, the things that put people at risk for low bone density apply to men as well as women. Men are also at risk for esteopenia if they have low testosterone.

Osteopenia treatment

Treatment is possible by taking steps to prevent low bone density from progressing to osteoporosis, and sometimes by taking medications that your doctor has prescribed. Lifestyle changes can help reduce bone loss caused by low bone density and osteoporosis.

What you eat is very important for bone development. Calcium is the most critical mineral for bone mass. Your best sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, green vegetables, and calcium-rich products.

Your doctor may also want you to take a calcium supplement, usually combined with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and other minerals. Vitamin D is found in eggs, salmon, sardines, swordfish, and some fish oils. In addition to what you get from food, your body also makes vitamin D in response to sunlight.

Exercise is important for having strong bones because bone gets stronger in response to stress. Walking, jogging, dancing, and weight-lifting exercises are good choices in this regard. Light to moderate exercise strengthens bones in the upper and lower body. You can talk to your doctor or physical therapist about starting an exercise program.

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In addition to diet and exercise, quitting smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption will also reduce your risk of bone loss.

There are also drugs used to treat osteopenia. However, they are more commonly used if you have gone from low bone density to more severe osteoporosis. Medications that can be used for low bone density include bisphosphonates, raloxifene, and hormone replacement.

Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.

Can osteopenia be prevented?

It cannot be determined with certainty whether you will tend to develop low bone density. Things like whether you have family members with osteoporosis or osteopenia, whether you have chronic asthma that requires you to take steroids, and how much calcium and vitamin D you get as you grow up are often out of your control. But if you’re a young adult or raising a child, there are things you can do to help develop strong bones, slow bone loss, and prevent osteoporosis.

Your bones don’t reach their peak density until around age 30. So for children and people younger than 30, anything that helps increase bone density will have long-term benefits. To maximize bone density, you can get plenty of calcium and vitamin D from what you eat and spend some time in the sun. You can also exercise regularly and stop smoking and drinking alcohol.

If you have children, you should teach them to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and alcohol. You should also get them to play around a bit in the sunlight to help their bodies make more vitamin D. You can talk to your doctor about how much and which source of vitamin D is appropriate for your child.

If you’re over 30, it’s not too late to make these lifestyle changes. A balanced diet and regular exercise will help slow the condition of osteopenia, delay or prevent low bone density and osteoporosis.

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