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Low bone density (sometimes called osteopenia) is a decrease in thickness, or density, in bones. That means the bones become thinner and weaker. It is more common in women than in men.
It's important to know that low bone density is not a disease. It can happen normally with aging. Having low bone density means that there is a greater risk that you may get osteoporosis. It also means that you are more likely to break a bone than someone who does not have low bone density. But not everyone with low bone density gets osteoporosis or breaks a bone.
Low bone density doesn't cause any symptoms. It's usually found with a type of X-ray called a bone density test. Your bone density result (T-score) is below normal if it has a minus sign in front of it.
Things that increase your risk include:
There are things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis. Certain lifestyle changes will help slow the loss of bone density.
Prescription medicines are available for treating low bone density. But these are more often used to treat osteoporosis.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Adaptation Date: 8/15/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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