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Osteopenia (cont.)

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What causes osteopenia?

Osteopenia has multiple causes. Common causes and risk factors include

  • genetics (familial predisposition to osteopenia or osteoporosis, a family history of early bone loss, and other genetic disorders);
  • hormonal causes, including decreased estrogen (such as in women after menopause) or testosterone;
  • smoking;
  • excess alcohol;
  • thin frame;
  • immobility;
  • certain medications (such as corticosteroids, including prednisone) and antiseizure medications;
  • malabsorption due to conditions (such as celiac sprue);
  • and chronic inflammation due to medical conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis).

What are osteopenia symptoms and signs?

Osteopenia does not cause pain unless a bone is broken (fractured). Interestingly, fractures in patients with osteopenia do not always cause pain. Osteopenia or osteoporosis can be present for many years prior to diagnosis for these reasons. Many bone fractures due to osteopenia or osteoporosis, such as a hip fracture or vertebral fracture (fracture of a bone in the spine), are very painful. However, some fractures, especially vertebral fractures (fractures of the bony building blocks of the spine), can be painless and therefore osteopenia or osteoporosis may go undiagnosed for years.

Why is osteopenia important?

Osteopenia is important because it can cause bone fractures. People with osteopenia are not as likely to fracture a bone as those with osteoporosis; however, because there are many more people with osteopenia than osteoporosis, patients with osteopenia account for a large number of patients who fracture a bone. In other words, while osteoporosis indicates bone that is more prone to fracture and people with osteoporosis have a higher percentage risk of fracture than osteopenia, because of the much larger number of people with osteopenia there is a greater total number of fractures in these people.

Bone fractures due to osteopenia and osteoporosis are important because they can be very painful, although some spinal (vertebral) fractures are painless.

In addition to the pain, hip fractures are a serious problem because they require surgical repair. Also, many patients require long-term nursing-home care after a hip fracture. Fractures, especially in the elderly, are associated with an increase in overall mortality (death rate). A significant percentage of people die in the year following hip fracture, due to complications including blood clots related to immobility, pneumonia, and many other reasons.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/27/2014

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Osteopenia - Causes Question: If known, what is the cause of your osteopenia?
Osteopenia - Signs and Symptoms Question: Describe the signs and symptoms associated with your osteopenia.
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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/osteopenia/article.htm

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