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Osteopenia (cont.)

Osteoporosis:Are Your Bones at Risk?
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Osteopenia vs. osteoporosis

Osteopenia and osteoporosis are related conditions. The difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis is that in osteopenia the bone loss is not as severe as in osteoporosis. That means someone with osteopenia is more likely to fracture a bone than someone with a normal bone density but is less likely to fracture a bone than someone with osteoporosis.

Osteopenia vs. osteomalacia

Osteopenia is a bone condition characterized by decreased bone density, which leads to bone weakening and an increased risk of bone fracture. Osteomalacia is a bone disorder characterized by decreased mineralization of newly formed bone. Osteomalacia is caused by severe vitamin D deficiency (which can be nutritional or caused by a hereditary syndrome) and by conditions that cause very low blood phosphate levels (such as genetic syndromes and cancer related syndromes). People with osteomalacia and those with osteopenia may have no symptoms. Both osteomalacia and osteopenia increase the risk of breaking a bone. However, symptoms of osteomalacia include bone pain and muscle weakness, bone tenderness, difficulty walking, and muscle spasms. These symptoms are not caused by osteopenia.

What risk factors and causes of 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).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/16/2018


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