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Osteopenia Facts

Patient Comments
  • Our skeleton is composed of bone that is necessary for our structure, design, and function, as well as protection of internal organs.
  • Weakening of bone can lead to fracture of bone, pain, and deformity.
  • Osteopenia is an early sign of bone weakening that is less severe than osteoporosis.
  • Osteopenia is treatable with exercise, lifestyle changes, dietary supplements, and medications.
  • It is possible to prevent osteopenia.

What Is Osteopenia?

The density of bone, a sign of the quality of the strength of bone, can easily be measured. The standard test for measuring the density of bone is a bone density test, either by CT scan of the lumbar spine (quantitative computed tomography or QCT) or, more commonly, by DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorption) bone density test. The bone density test provides a numerical rating of the density of the bones measured. Bones that are often tested in this manner include the lumbar spine, the femur bone of the hip, and the forearm bone. The numerical result of the bone density test is quantified as a "T score." The lower the T score, the lower the bone density. T scores greater than -1.0 are considered normal and indicate healthy bone. T scores between -1.0 and -2.5 indicate osteopenia. T scores lower than -2.5 indicate osteoporosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/17/2016
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Osteopenia:

Osteopenia - Experience

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Osteopenia - Symptoms

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Osteopenia - Treatment

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Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, helps prevent osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention and Exercise

Exercise is important to prevent osteoporosis. Although bones may seem like hard and lifeless structures, bones are more like muscle; bones are living tissue that respond to exercise by becoming stronger. Physical activity during childhood and adolescence increases bone density and strength. This means that children who get exercise are more likely to reach a higher peak bone density (maximum strength and solidness), which usually occurs by 30 years of age. People who reach higher peak bone densities are less likely to develop osteoporosis.

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