Symptoms and Signs of Osteopenia

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/19/2021

Doctor's Notes on Osteopenia

Osteopenia is an early sign of bone density loss that is less severe than osteoporosis. While people osteopenia are at a somewhat greater risk for bone fracture, osteoporosis carries a much greater risk of bone fractures. Risk factors for osteopenia include:

Osteopenia is preventable with adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, exercise, avoiding alcohol, not smoking, and minimizing the use of corticosteroids.

Osteopenia usually causes no symptoms and it is often not detected without a bone density test. When osteopenia does cause symptoms, they may include localized bone pain and weakness in an area of a previous bone fracture.

What Is the Treatment for Osteopenia?

Management of osteopenia includes:

For some people with osteopenia, treatment with prescription medications may be appropriate. These are the same medications used to prevent and treat osteoporosis:

  • Bisphosphonate drugs slow the body’s natural breakdown of bone
  • Other medications may help the body make new bone cells

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.