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    Osteopenia vs Osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis and osteopenia are bone thinning conditions that are very closely related, with the boundary between the two being set by a defined bone mineral density T-score. Although Osteopenia vs. Osteoporosis have many similarities they have very different outcomes and treatment options.

    Osteoporosis is basically a skeletal disease wherein the bones become thin, weak, altered in structure, and fragile. Bones are then susceptible to and likely to undergo fractures; these can be severe and may occur quite frequently.

    Osteopenia, on the other hand is a condition wherein the bones are weakened due to having low bone mass, and are not as strong as the normal bones. People with osteopenia have bones that are less dense than considered normal for their age and they are considered to be at risk of developing the skeletal disease osteoporosis. The bone still remains fairly strong and is not as likely to fracture as is the case with osteoporosis. Indeed osteoporosis is often first discovered upon a bone fracture, whereas osteopenia is usually detected through a bone mineral density test.

    The main differences between osteopenia vs osteoporosis is the amount of calcium that the bone contains and the structure of the bone. The density of the bone in osteopenia is not ideal, yet not too low as to make the bones porous and exceptionally weak. In osteoporosis, the calcium level is extremely low, and the bone structure is altered, this leads to the bones becoming porous and highly subject to fractures.

    DEXA BMD Test

     A person can be tested as to whether or not they are suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia by means of a BMD DEXA test. The density of the bone minerals can help to distinguish the difference between osteoporosis and osteopenia.

    One of the key distinctions between the conditions is the bone mineral density score; when the result of BMD test has a T-score that will range from -1 to -2.5, then the person will be diagnosed with osteopenia, if the T-score is less than -2.5, then osteoporosis is diagnosed.

    With regards to osteopenia vs. osteoporosis it is estimated that a person with the former has a 1.8 fold increase in suffereing from a fracture than a non-osteoporotic person, whereas the latter has around four tomes the likelyhood of receiving fracturing a bone.

    Osteopenia vs Osteoporosis Occurrence

    Both osteopopenia and osteoporosis are largely (though not always) lifestyle and age related;  hormonal changes during the menopause are known to have a large impact upon the bone remodeling cycle as are lack of exercise and poor diet.

    Osteoporosis is commonest amongst eldery people, especially women who are 50 years and above, and is known as the silent disease, as most people do not realize that they have it until they have been diagnosed with the condition. Some of the tell tale signs of osteoporosis include bad or stooped postures, and severe back aches. A fracture is often the first visible sign of the condition.

    Preventing Osteoporosis and osteopenia

    As mentioned above osteoporosis is referred to as the silent disease, this is because most people do not realize that they have it until a fracture has occurred, or if they have been diagnosed with the condition following a DEXA test.

    As with many things if there are no outward signs of a problem then people will not bother too much about it. This is a shame as there are many steps that can be took, especially at an early age that have been shown to have a significant effect on slowing down the rate of bone loss. Some of the main preventative steps to limit the progressiveness of osteopenia and osteoporosis include taking weight bearing exercises (this can be as simple as walking one mile per day) and eating foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.

    Osteopenia vs Osteoporosis references and further reading

    Landon Center on Ageing; University of Michigan; UCLA.