About 18 million Americans have osteopenia. Osteopenia refers to early signs of bone loss that can turn into osteoporosis. With osteopenia, bone mineral density is lower than normal. However, it is not yet low enough to be considered osteoporosis.
Not everyone who has osteopenia develops osteoporosis. But osteopenia can turn into osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can result in easily fractured bones and other very serious bone problems. It can also cause disfigurement and lead to loss of mobility and independence.
If you have osteoporosis, treating the condition directly -- with medicines
or calcium supplements -- is obviously important. But it's also crucial to do
everything you can to avoid the most serious risk of osteoporosis: broken
bones. Practicing fracture prevention is a vital part of your osteoporosis
According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoporosis causes 1.5
million bone fractures every year. And these broken bones can be a lot more
than painful and inconvenient. They...
Bone health is measured in two ways. The first is bone density. Bone density defines the thickness of your bone. The second is bone mass. Bone mass means how much bone you have. Bone mass, or the amount of bone you have, usually peaks around age 30. Then bone mass begins to decline. Your body starts to reabsorb bone faster than new bone can be made.
To find bone density, your health care provider measures the levels of minerals in your bones. These minerals include:
The denser the content of your bone mineral is, the stronger your bones are.
With aging, your body absorbs back calcium and other minerals from your bones. This reabsorption can make your bones weaker and lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. The bones become more vulnerable to fractures and other damage.
What Are Some Risk Factors for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis?
Risk factors for developing osteopenia are the same as those for developing osteoporosis. They include:
How Can my Doctor Test for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis?
The most accurate way to diagnose osteopenia and osteoporosis is through bone mineral density testing. This is usually done with a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan.
DXA scan results are reported as T-scores:
Normal bone: T-score above -1
Osteopenia: T-score between -1 and -2.5
Osteoporosis: T-score of -2.5 or lower
Other tests can be done to help diagnose osteoporosis and osteopenia. Quantitative ultrasound is one such test. It measures the speed of sound in the bone to assess bone density and strength. DXA scans are usually still needed to confirm results from ultrasound and other tests.