What is Osteopenia-Not same as osteoporosis

September 17, 2018

Weaker bones are often associated with osteoporosis but there are other medical conditions that can affect your bones. Osteopenia is one such condition that causes a varying degree of bone loss. Often people are found misdiagnosing themselves with osteoporosis when they might actually be suffering from osteopenia. 
Studies show that over half of the US population above the age of 50 suffers from this condition. This is why it is important to understand this condition. 

 

Osteopenia vs. osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a severe condition that is caused when there is depletion of minerals from bones on a large scale. This is why the condition requires frequent medical attention and diagnosis. Osteopenia is a more inert condition in which bone loss is not severe, thus needing less frequent medical care. Patients with osteoporosis are more likely to fracture a bone than osteopenia patients. 
Both these conditions have similar symptoms and it is not possible to diagnose them without the bone density measure. Also known as the dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or DXA, the bone density measure test is a noninvasive and painless procedure. The output of the result is called a T-score. Whether a person has normal bone density, osteopenia or osteoporosis, is decided based on T-score, as denoted in the graph below: 

 

 

A T-score of -1 to -2.5 indicates the presence of osteopenia, while a lower score means progress of osteoporosis. A person should only rely on bone density measure to know if he is suffering from osteoporosis. 
With a decline in bone density is the major cause of the increased fracture rate. Lowered density makes bones agile and porous leaving patient susceptible to frequent bone fractures. According to the American Medical Association, a person with a T-score of -2.5 has as high as 33% chance of fracturing a hip, while with a -2 T-score risk is 27% and with a T-score of -1 it is 16%. 
That being said, the T-score is an arbitrary number and not always conclusive. For instance, if a person has a T-score of -2.2, while other have a T-score of -2.5, there is not much of a difference but a lower score will be taken as the presence of osteopenia while the higher score will be categorized as osteoporosis. This is why experts advice frequent bone density tests for osteopenia patients, usually every 2-5 weeks. 

 

Osteopenia-The Symptoms
There is no pain or any physical symptom of osteopenia that can help in its diagnosis unless there is a bone fracture. This is why the condition can go undetected for years, and even in some cases, a bone fracture is also not painful for the patients. All these reasons make timely detection of osteopenia a challenge. 
Lowered human growth hormone levels can also result in weaker bones and contribute to the condition. Growth hormone is responsible for growth and development of bones, but with age secretion of this hormone declines. To keep production of growth hormone boosted, one can make changes to diet, exercise and use supplements. According to Josh from A1hgh.com, HGH oral pills can naturally increase the secretion of growth hormones by reactivating the dormant somatotroph cells in the body. Oral pills are said to be a safer alternative to HGH injections. 
Bone density test is the only way to fully diagnose osteopenia, but you can be proactive and pay attention to symptoms like localized bone pain in your back or loss of height or stooped posture that can be caused because of recurrent spinal fracture, all indicate weaker bones.

 

Osteopenia- The Prevention
The weakening of bones is a natural process resulted from aging but there are certain lifestyle choices that encourage bone loss. You need to keep a check on these choices, that include: 
1.    High alcohol consumption 
2.    Smoking
3.    Not enough calcium or vitamin D in the diet 
4.    Immobility 
5.    Not exercising enough with weights 
Other than these factors, medical conditions like decreased testosterone or estrogen, chronic inflammation, medications like corticosteroids and anticonvulsants and malabsorption because of celiac spruce can contribute to osteopenia. 
A family history of bone loss increases the risk of osteopenia. People with growth hormone deficiency are also at risk of developing osteopenia and other bone-related problems. 


Osteopenia-Treatments and Medications
More than treatments, prevention is advised to deal with osteopenia. Exercising is extremely helpful in preventing the condition by stimulating the growth of stronger and denser bones. For elders, weight-bearing exercises are advised that train them to have better body coordination and balance and prevents falls. Avoiding high alcohol intake and smoking will keep you healthy that will benefit bone density. Often diet rich in vitamin D and calcium supplements is added in the treatment protocol. 
Medication for osteopenia is entirely dependent on the patient’s medical history and his bone health. The risk factors mentioned above are also considered to decide whether medication is necessary or not. Depending on the profile of the patient, doctors will advise the right medication if only needed. Mostly, bisphosphonate drugs are used in the treatment of osteopenia such as ibandronate (Boniva), zoledronate (Reclast), risedronate (Actonel) and raloxifene (Evista).


Bone mineral density test-Should you get it done?
Not everyone needs to get a bone density measure because it is not very economical going by the frequency of the test. On average 750 tests are done over 5 years span, so it is recommended to only get it done when it is an absolute necessity. 
These individuals are recommended to take tests by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF): 
1.    People over the age of 65 with localized bone pain 
2.    Postmenopausal women who suffer frequent fractures
3.    Postmenopausal women younger than 65, but with the above-mentioned risk factors 
If you fall into any of these categories, a bone density measure might be a necessity for you. Even when you are not included above, it is still important to do weight wearing exercises so that your bones are healthy and denser.

 
Summary
Osteopenia may not be the same as osteoporosis but it is an indication of your depleting bone health. If left unattended the condition can rapidly progress to osteoporosis leading to severe depletion of bones. 
A healthy lifestyle and regular checkups can help you to manage osteopenia with ease.

 

About Author: Dr. Josh Levine is a certified physician who primarily works in domain of adult muscle antropy. He is experienced as a sports and athletic medical practitioner as well. He runs his own blog A1HGH.com where he shares information on human growth hormone.


 

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