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Osteopenia (cont.)

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Is it possible to prevent osteopenia?

The best way to prevent osteopenia is by living healthfully. In regard to osteopenia, prevention includes ensuring adequate calcium intake either through diet or supplements, ensuring adequate vitamin D intake, not drinking too much alcohol (no more than two drinks daily), not smoking, and getting plenty of exercise. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, lifting light weights, or doing push-ups, is the most effective exercise for preventing and treating bone loss. This is because this type of exercise signals to the bones to become stronger.

For most people, prescription medications are not necessary to prevent osteopenia. However, some people taking certain medications (such as prednisone or other steroids) for more than a few months may need to take prescription medication to prevent bone loss.

Is osteopenia reversible?

Infrequently, osteopenia can normalize on follow-up testing. This is more common in certain situations, such as when only mild osteopenia on the initial bone density test. When mild osteopenia is caused by significant vitamin D deficiency, and the vitamin D deficiency is treated, then the osteopenia may reverse. Another example is when osteopenia is caused by malabsorption from celiac sprue, and the celiac sprue is treated, then osteopenia often improves.

These specific examples apply to a minority of people with osteopenia. Usually, osteopenia does not reverse, but with the proper treatment, the bone density can stabilize and the risk for a bone fracture improves.

What is the prognosis of osteopenia?

Frequently, bone loss can be slowed or stabilized with lifestyle changes or medication if necessary. In some situations, bone loss may continue due to hormonal factors, medical conditions, or medications. Examples of these situations may be untreated celiac sprue, untreated or resistant rheumatoid arthritis, and treatment with steroid medication such as prednisone used for another medical condition.


Katz, Seymour. "Prevention, Detection, and Treatment of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis." Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y) 9.3 Mar. 2013: 176-178.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/31/2017


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