Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

What Is Osteopenia?

You've heard of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, but what about osteopenia?  Often a precursor to osteoporosis, osteopenia is simply low bone mass.  The World Health Organization defines osteopenia based on bone mineral density values between 1.0 and 2.5 standard deviations below the average of bone mass for the young adult normal population; osteoporosis would begin at 2.5 standard deviations or more from this normal level.  According to this definition, osteopenia may affect nearly 16% of the young adult female population and up to 40% of women over age 50.  This represents a very large segment of the population who would be at increased risk for osteoporosis. 

While osteopenia has not traditionally been associated with an increased bone fracture risk, the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment (NORA) has shown that women with osteopenia have a 1.8 times greater risk of fracturing their forearm, heel or finger than women with a normal bone density.  While this is a significantly lower risk of fracture than women with osteoporosis (who are 4 times a likely as women with a normal bone mass to have a fracture), it is still a significant risk about which most women with osteopenia are simply not aware.

How would you know if you have osteopenia?  The only way to find out is to have a bone mineral density (BMD) test, the same non-invasive diagnostic test used for osteoporosis.  While pharmacologic treatment is rarely recommended for a woman with osteopenia, there are steps that women with this diagnosis can take to reduce their risk of bone fractures and progression to osteoporosis.  Modifying behavioral risk factors is key:  stop smoking, increase weight-bearing exercise, increase dietary calcium and vitamin D.  Most importantly, ask your doctor what kind of follow-up you should have, particularly when you should have a follow-up BMD test. 

Created: 10/28/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us