Osteoporosis and Osteopenia are related…they both have to do with bond density. To better understand them, some definitions are necessary.

  • Osteopenia is common in people over age 50. It is the thinning of bone mass and is a serious risk factor for the development of osteoporosis. The diagnostic difference between the two is the measure of bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis is also called “fragile bone disease” and is characterized by a loss of bone mass caused by deficiencies in vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. If Osteoporosis progresses, it can lead to severe pain, stooped posture or loss of height.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects ten million Americans, mostly women. Thirty-four million more are estimated to have osteopenia – putting them at risk for osteoporosis. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests measure the amount of calcium levels in bones, which can estimate the risk of fractures. The tests also determine if a patient has osteopenia or osteoporosis. BMD tests are non-invasive and painless scans, usually done on the hip, spine, wrist, finger, shin bone, or heel. The results are measured as a “score” and are compared to those of healthy individuals.

Are you at risk?

There are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood for moderate to severe loss of bone mass:

  • Age – Most men and women lose about .5% of bone mass every year after the age of 50.
  • Gender: – Women are a higher risk because they have less bone mass than men. Women also often experience a loss of bone mass following menopause.
  • Family history – Those with a family history of low bone mass have a 50%-85% increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Race – Asian and Caucasian women, especially those who are small-boned, are at highest risk.
  • Lifestyle choices – A poor diet lacking calcium and vitamin D, smoking, excessive use of alcohol or caffeine, and lack of exercise can contribute to a loss of bone mass.

What can you do?

Osteopenia and osteoporosis are not inevitable. There are things you can do to keep your bones healthy:

  • Maintain a balanced diet with adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamins D, K, and C as well as other minerals.
  • Keep moving and engage in a physical activity that includes weight bearing exercises, such as low-impact aerobics, jogging, and walking to help minimize bone loss.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
  • Have regular check-ups to monitor bone loss, especially if you are over 50.

If you have questions about possible bone loss, call to schedule an appointment. We are here to help address any issues or questions you may have.

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