What Is Osteopenia?

By brett
Jul 3, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

The World Health Organization coined the term osteopenia in 1992 to describe a previously unnamed condition. It refers to a loss of bone mineral density that causes problems for the patient, but that is not quite serious enough to be classified as osteoporosis.

People with osteopenia have a high risk of broken bones. The condition can be thought of as a precursor to osteoporosis, because people with osteopenia are likely to eventually develop the disease. Here are answers to ten frequently asked questions asked about this condition that affects millions of Americans.

1. What Are the Symptoms of Osteopenia?

Often the first clue that a person suffers from osteopenia is a broken bone in the wrist, hip, or vertebral column. Before this fracture occurs, there is usually no pain and no other symptoms. People are sometimes unaware that a bone has even broken, because their bones have weakened to the point that they break easily, with little or no pain. After a break, bones usually feel weak and sore.

If people could see their bones at the microscopic level, the warning signs of osteopenia would be hard to miss. The word osteopenia comes from two words meaning “bone” and “poverty,” a name that does a good job describing the condition. Bones with osteopenia are impoverished in the sense that they are lacking the density present in healthy bones. Under a microscope, you would be able to see pores among the normal honeycomb-shaped structures. These pores become more pronounced as the disease progresses.


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