Osteopenia


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is osteopenia?

A medical condition where the density of the bone decreases is called osteopenia.  Due to low density, the bone becomes soft and weak.  It is a condition which can lead to osteoporosis and can be considered a phase where the bones tend to lose their strength.  This is mainly due to the low absorption of minerals and nutrients.

Malabsorption of minerals may be caused by various factors such as low immunity, low vitamin D levels, etc.  This is generally a silent condition and only can be detected from bone mineral testing.  An early diagnosis such as in the case of osteopenia can be helpful in preventing osteoporosis.  It should be noted that the progression of osteopenia can be slowed, but it is very difficult to reverse osteoporosis.

It has been found that women are affected more than men, but it does not mean that men are spared from this problem.  Women are known to have the lower bone density to start with and due to other conditions such as hormonal imbalance may lose further bone density causing osteopenia.

Signs & Symptoms

The biggest drawback of having osteopenia is that you experience hardly any signs or symptoms associated with it unless it has progressed enough so that a bone breaks easily.  Some of the common signs and symptoms during this phase include:

  • One or more bone fractures mainly affecting the ankle, hip, spine, waist, spine, or wrist.
  • Regular bone pains as well as pain in the joints.
  • Difficulty with ambulation and problems with exercising normally.

This condition can worsen over time and lead to a more serious condition called osteoporosis.  Some of the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis are discussed below:

  • All the symptoms of osteopenia including bone and joint pain, fractures, as well as problems with ambulation and exercise.
  • Problems with posture such as stooping and having a hunched back.
  • Problems with doing daily chores such as lifting objects, cooking, and even bathing. You would need someone to assist you in doing these daily chores.  In many cases, this can lead to psychological problems such as stress and depression.

Risk Factors for Osteopenia

There are numerous risk factors associated with developing osteopenia and osteoporosis.  An unhealthy diet can lead to this problem.  Nowadays there is a trend to eat fast foods due to the busy schedule since it is time-consuming to cook your own food.  A diet that is void of healthy nutrients is equal to a diet that is nonexistent.

It is better to skip a fast food breakfast or snack rather than eating a burger.  This just adds up to the unhealthy fat and a large number of calories with minimal nutrients.  Since this eating trend is common among the age group between 20 and 40, they seem to be the ones who have a high chance of developing osteopenia due to malnutrition.

Naturally, bone density decreases with age, but having a low bone density at this age is definitely not acceptable.  A skeletal system that is strong between the teens and 40 years of age can determine how healthy your bones would be in the long run.  Some of the major risk factors for developing osteopenia and osteoporosis are discussed below.

Sex

This is considered a major risk factor for developing osteopenia since women are known to be more affected than men.  Women after menopause are at higher risk since the production of estrogen reduces, which is important to maintain healthy and strong bones.  It is believed that the first few years after menopause is crucial and women tend to lose the majority of their bone density during this period.  Women having strong bones going into menopause are likely to have lesser effects of osteopenia as compared to other women who have a weak skeletal system.

Diet

The next major risk factor is diet.  A diet that is low on calcium and vitamin D can become a major risk factor since it is essential to build strong bones.  People who are allergic to dairy products may avoid them and this can lead to calcium deficiency.  Another diet consisting of low calories too can cause calcium deficiency and be a major risk factor for developing osteopenia.  Many individuals also suffer from eating disorders where they tend to limit the food in order to maintain a toned body.  Due to the inadequate supply of calories and nutrients, the bones gradually tend to become weak and brittle.  This phenomenon is mainly found in women.  Malnutrition can cause hormonal imbalance and cause low estrogen levels adding up to the complication.

Minimal sunlight exposure

Many people try to avoid sun rays due to the harmful effects of the sun.  It should be noted that minimal exposure to sunlight can cause vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium and hence plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones.

Sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle consisting of only desk work and no exercise can cause a negative impact on the bones and may lead to stiffness and pain in the joints leading to weakness.

Medication side effects

Medications are known to cause certain side effects such as decrease the absorption of nutrients leading to lower levels of important minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Some of the medications that cause these problems include steroid medications, asthma medications, thyroid medications, birth control pills, etc.

Cancer treatment

Patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy are known to have low absorption of minerals and nutrients and can lead to lower bone density.

Race

Studies have revealed that women from the Caucasian race have a higher risk of developing bone disorders as compared to others such as Hispanics, African American, or the Asians.

Tobacco and alcohol abuse

Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption are again risk factors for low bone density due to impaired nutrient absorption.

Obesity

Obesity is known to cause multiple problems such as hormone imbalance and low level of activity.  Both these factors are known to contribute to weak bones.

Diagnosis

Majority of the people affected by osteopenia stay in the dark not knowing that they have this condition.  Since osteopenia has minimal signs and symptoms, it is difficult to find out unless you undergo a bone mineral test.  Due to its minimal symptoms, they are considered to be a silent disease affecting the bones.  The most commonly used bone density exam is the DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan.

The bone mineral test is conducted on the spine or hip to obtain accurate measurements to predict if the person is suffering from low bone density.  The results are read as T-score.  A T-score between – 0.1 to – 2.5 is considered to be osteopenic.  Your doctor may order a bone mineral test after the age of 30, particularly in women to make sure everything is fine with the skeletal system.  Additionally, women are tested when they reach menopause.  It is important to get tested for bone density with any minimal signs of bone pain and weakness.

Conventional Treatment for Osteopenia

It is important to note that there are very few people who get diagnosed early during the stage of osteopenia.  Osteopenia generally does not need any treatment and the focus is mainly on avoiding further damage to the bones by providing medications and supplements to halt the degradation process.

Since the bone density gradually reduces with age, treating with drugs is not the complete cure as the condition could deteriorate with age.  Your doctor may choose to prescribe a few medications that slow the progression of this bone disorder such as bisphosphonate medications and the commonly used drug in this class is Fosamax.

Similarly, anabolic medications and antiresorptive medications such as estrogen therapy/hormone therapy may be prescribed.  There has been a debate over the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy for osteopenia and osteoporosis since they only help to slow the progression and not treat the disorder.  These drugs are not useful in the long run because their effects fade out once these drugs are stopped.

Natural Treatment and Prevention for Osteopenia

Osteopenia Diet

Consuming a healthy diet that provides the essential vitamins and minerals to maintain strong bones is recommended.  Many individuals tend to eat low fat and low protein foods in order to stay in shape.  This may be helpful in reducing and maintaining the weight but is highly problematic when followed for an extended period of time.  By following these diets, you no doubt end up with low fat and thin muscles but also end up losing your skeletal structure.  Your bones tend to become malnourished and weak.  Some of the foods that can provide these essential nutrients are discussed below.

  • Calcium-rich foods: Dairy products such as cheese, kefir, and yogurt.  Leafy green vegetables also provide essential calcium whereas seafood such as salmon and sardines contain a high concentration of calcium.
  • Food containing magnesium: Almonds, kefir, black beans, pumpkin seeds, spinach, cocoa, as well as yogurt.
  • Vitamin C containing foods: Berries, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, papaya, guava, as well as broccoli and kale.
  • Foods containing collagen protein:  Bone broth is the rich source of collagen. It can also be obtained from supplements.  Collagen is an important component of bone that provides the framework and flexibility to the bone.
  • Iron-rich foods: These foods are mainly consumed to prevent anemia.  Some of the iron-rich foods include fish, eggs, spinach, kale, lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, as well as nuts and seeds.

Overall, the main aim of this diet to consume lots of vegetables, fruits, seafood, and dairy products.  All these foods provide the essential nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy bone and prevent osteoporosis.

Osteopenia Exercises

Staying active is important to maintain skeletal strength.  Studies have claimed that exercise can limit the progression of bone loss.  Weight-bearing exercises, in particular, are important to maintain the strength of the bone.  It does not require you to carry heavy weights, but you need to work against gravity to perform the weight-bearing exercise.  Performing these exercises for at least 30 minutes every day can strengthen your muscles as well as the bones.  You need to maintain an active lifestyle even in your older age to help retain the bone mass and density.

Supplements to protect bones

It is a good choice to add supplements in your diet to slow the progression of osteopenia.  Some of the standard supplements available include calcium supplements, vitamin D supplements, magnesium supplements, vitamin B12 supplement, as well as vitamin K2 supplements.  You need to consult your doctor before adding them to your diet to know about the dosage.

Maintain a healthy weight

It is a well-known fact that obesity can cause several complications such as increased inflammation, contribute to hormonal changes, as well as bone damage.  Healthy body weight can help negate these complications and keep your bones healthy.

Get enough sunlight

Sunlight is important for our body since it provides vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption.  A sunlight exposure of around 15 to 20 minutes per day is recommended to gain the benefits from sunlight.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get adequate sunlight.
  • Exercise daily.
Don'ts
  • Live a sedentary life.
  • Eat junk foods.
  • Avoid sunlight.
  • Maintain abnormal weight.

 

 

 

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Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
AUTOIMMUNE HEPATITIS liver
Hepatitis Profile A hepatitis profile or a hepatitis panel is a blood test that checks for markers of hepatitis infection…
helping friend with depression
Support and care tips for helping people with depression Read to find out what is depression, its causes and symptoms. Also check out the steps describing how…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) test Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is found in every cell of the body and it plays…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
elements 22 test
Element 22 test (Nutrients & Toxicity) The element 22 test is used for measuring and monitoring the levels of heavy metals and some nutrients…
Medical conditions yoga can help with Yoga practitioners have outlined several health benefits of yoga and a daily yoga regimen can help in treating…
Medical conditions yoga can help with Yoga practitioners have outlined several health benefits of yoga and a daily yoga regimen can help in treating…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
How can berberine supplements help you live longer and healthier? Berberine is a turmeric look-alike herbal extract that is credited with numerous health benefits ranging from diabetes cure…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
10 reasons why you should up your selenium intake Selenium, though a trace mineral, is very much integral to your health. Find out how much selenium intake…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
hemoglobin variant analysis
Hemoglobin Variant Analysis Hemoglobin variant analysis is a blood test that is used to detect the presence of hemoglobin variants which…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
thyroxine t4 test
T4 (Thyroxine) Hormone Test The T4 or thyroxine blood test is an important diagnostic tool that gives a clear picture of how…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
biopsy procedure
Biopsy Biopsy is a procedure of studying a live tissue sample collected from a specific organ for diagnosing a…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…

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