Osteopenia is a condition in which your bone mass density is lower than normal. Having osteopenia can lead to osteoporosis, a disease in which your bones become weak and more likely to fracture (break).
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because there are usually no symptoms unless you have a fracture. The fractures usually occur in the spine, hip, ribs, and wrist. They can occur from doing normal everyday activities.
Causes of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis Your body is constantly making new bone and shedding old bone. Osteoporosis develops when the amount of bone that your body makes is less than the amount of bone that it sheds. Factors that can increase the risk of osteoporosis for both men and women include:
- Lack of exercise
- Eating a diet low in nutrients
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Consuming too much caffeine
- Bone marrow or connective tissue disorders
- Diseases that affect levels of hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone
- Thyroid disorders
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, heparin, some anticonvulsants, and methotrexate
- Hormonal therapy for prostate and breast cancers
- Going through menopause or taking medications like leuprolide (Lupron®) or goserelin (Zoladex®) that stop your ovaries from producing estrogen
Managing Osteopenia or Osteoporosis You can make changes in your lifestyle in order to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and its effects.
- Do not smoke.
- Limit your intake of alcohol
- Exercise! Weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, jump rope, stair climbing or hiking build up bone and reduce your risk of developing bone loss. Muscle strengthening exercises like lifting weights, using resistance bands, pilates or yoga are necessary in supporting bone health and should be done at least 2 to 3 times a week. Non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming and tai chi are helpful in preventing fractures and improving posture and balance. We can help you determine what exercise is best for you and the possible need for physical therapy.
- There are medications available for preventing and treating osteoporosis. The doctor will discuss your options with you and prescribe the one that best meets your needs, if necessary.
- Make your home safe to prevent falls including wearing nonskid shoes, installing safety rales and carrying a walking cane.
- Eat a nutrient dense diet including sufficient calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K and zinc.