Osteopenia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What is osteopenia?
Osteopenia is usually used to describe the lower bone mineral density (BMD) than the regular peak BMD but not low enough to be designated as osteoporosis. Bone density is a measure of how strong your bones are.
A study investigating the prevalence of osteopenia in India reported that 62.2% women, in the study group were osteopenic.
Our bones are always changing, while new bone is being formed, old bone is broken down and reabsorbed by the body. When one is young, the rate of new bone formation is maximal until it reaches a peak bone mass. Once, this peak mass is attained, the pace of old bone breakdown is faster than the new bone formation, as one grows older. Women are at higher risk of developing osteopenia given their low peak BMD and hormonal changes which affect the bone loss, especially after menopause.
Osteopenia in both men and women can develop due to:
- Dietary or metabolic disorders that prevent mineral and vitamin uptake
- Steroidal medication and chemotherapy
- Radiation exposure
- A family history of osteoporosis
Regularly drinking carbonated drinks and excessive alcohol also reported to raise the risk of osteopenia.
Osteopenia usually, presents with no symptoms. You will not experience any pain as your bones thin.
If you are suspected to suffer from osteopenia, your doctor will recommend a bone density test. The test can be done via a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA); though other methods of bone density measurement exist. This test utilises a kind of X-ray which can point out as little as 2% of bone loss per year.
The treatment is directed at preventing the progression of osteopenia to osteoporosis. It includes changes in lifestyle like weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones. You will be recommended jogging, walking and climbing steps.
Dietary recommendations will include incorporating calcium and vitamin D or their supplements. Excellent sources of calcium include low-fat or non-fat dairy products, beans, spinach, etc.
It may not always be possible to prevent it and most often the fact is that you already have it now. However, for your kids, you can take steps like incorporating calcium and vitamin D in their diet, promoting exercises, etc. You can still make these lifestyle choices, avoid alcohol, smoking and carbonated drinks.
Osteopenia increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia, adopt the lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor. Continue your weight-bearing exercises and visit your doctor for follow-up visits.
Consult a top Orthopedist
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