Osteopenia is a decrease in thickness, or density, in bones. That means the bones become thinner and weaker. It is much more common in women than in men. It is an early form of osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones are so thin and weak that they can break easily.
It's important to know that osteopenia is not a disease. It can happen normally with aging. Having osteopenia 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 osteopenia. But not everyone with osteopenia gets osteoporosis or breaks a bone.
Osteopenia doesn't cause any symptoms. It's usually found with a type of X-ray called a bone density test. Osteopenia means that your bone density result (T-score) is between –1.0 and –2.5.
Things that increase your risk include:
There are things you can do to slow down osteopenia and prevent osteoporosis. Certain lifestyle changes will help slow the loss of bone density.
Prescription medicines are available for treating bone thinning. 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 call line 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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Current as of: March 16, 2018
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
& Elizabeth A. Phelan, MD - Geriatric Medicine
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