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Osteopenia: symptoms, causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Osteopenia is not a disease, but it can be harmful to the person who suffers from it since it can increase the probability of suffering from osteoporosis. These are low levels of bone density that are below average. However, they are not so low as to be considered osteoporosis. It usually occurs in middle-aged men and women and is very common in women entering the phase known as menopause. It can also be genetic, and some have a greater predisposition to this pathology. Symptoms are not usually appreciated and are generally discovered by chance; in many cases, the bones need to be examined when there is a fracture. If you want to know more, in this FastlyHealarticle, we tell you what Osteopenia is, what its symptoms are, and how to treat it.

What is Osteopenia

Bone mineral density (BMD) is a measurement used to calculate the amount of mineral material in the bones. Typically, phosphorus and calcium are measured, these being the most common. This is why we talk about calcium is good for bones. Bone density reaches its maximum around the age of 35 years, and from this age, it begins to decline.

Bone density is calculated using a parameter known as the T Score, which measures the standard deviations of BMD concerning the mean value of the population between 20 and 39 years of the same sex. In other words, based on population studies of people of the same sex and ages between 20 and 39 years (when bone density is at its best), average bone density values ​​have been established. When they measure your bone density, doctors see the difference between your values ​​and those they have selected as usual, and thus they can diagnose if it is normal or below. Average values ​​are said to comprise a T Score between +1 and -1. Osteopenia occurs when these values are between -1 and -2.5. If the value is below -2.5, it is considered osteoporosis.

People with Osteopenia are more prone to osteoporosis, but it does not mean that everyone will.

Causes of Osteopenia

Bones are made up of two main minerals which are phosphorus and calcium. As the body of the personages, the bones lose calcium, which causes them to become porous inside and therefore lose density, making them weaker.

Therefore, the leading cause of Osteopenia is a loss of calcium due to aging, and that is why it is more common in middle-aged people who are beginning to lose density.

In addition, another cause of low bone density is that when bones age, they disintegrate, and the body absorbs them while new bone grows. A young person regenerates bones very quickly, but with age, this process slows down, so if the old bone disappears, but the new one takes time to grow, there is unevenness, and the bone density will be lower than usual.

Other causes that can lead to Osteopenia are:

  • Some medications such as those used for asthma or chemotherapy.
  • Prolonged radiation in our body.
  • Sometimes it can be genetic and is suffered from birth.
  • Eating disorders or metabolism problems.
  • Excess substances such as smoking, alcohol, or carbonated drinks.

Symptoms of Osteopenia

Osteopenia does not have apparent symptoms, and in most cases, people who suffer from it do not know they have it until they go to the doctor. Therefore, it is a problematic pathology to diagnose.

There is no pain or discomfort, although one of the signs that may show Osteopenia is the more significant number of fractures. If you break your bones more often than usual, it may be due to low bone mass.

Treatment of Osteopenia

Osteopenia must be treated to prevent it from leading to osteoporosis. The doctor can prescribe a pharmacological treatment. However, medications are not enough.

Most of the treatment depends on you and your lifestyle and diet, so there are some guidelines that you should follow:

Take more calcium

Low calcium levels in the bones cause them to weaken and lose bone density, which is why it is the main factor to consider in Osteopenia. Taking more calcium can help make them stronger. Yogurt, cheese, or milk, especially low in fat, are very good at providing calcium to the bones. If you have lactose intolerance, you can go to your doctor to prescribe a calcium supplement. Some vegetables, such as spinach or broccoli, are also rich in calcium. In the following article, we show which foods are richest in calcium.

Do exercise

Physical activity helps the bones become stronger and more resistant, in addition to strengthening the muscles, and this can prevent fractures. Exercises such as running, walking, brisk walking, or going up and down stairs are ubiquitous.

If you are an older adult who does not exercise much, it is advisable to go out for a walk every day for at least half an hour, or if you cannot hold out for fifteen minutes. There are also parks with gyms where you can exercise your bones, for example, in those that have pedals on the benches or stairs.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps absorb calcium in the bones. Therefore, it is advisable to take a lot of vitamin D, for example, orange juice, every day. In the following article, you can discover what foods rich in vitamin D are.

Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and carbonated drinks.

As we have seen before, these three substances are not suitable for bones, so the lower their consumption, the less it will affect our bone density.

How to prevent Osteopenia

If you are not prone to Osteopenia due to any of the causes we have seen above (hereditary, rare diseases, eating disorders, taking some medications, etc.), you can help prevent it.

Eating a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, in addition to avoiding the toxic substances mentioned as much as possible, and doing regular exercise can help you improve your bones and prevent a lack of density as you age. It is better to do it in adulthood to achieve a better level before 35, when it begins to decline.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Osteopenia: symptoms, causes, and treatment , we recommend that you enter our category of Bones, Joints, and Muscles.

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