When you have weak bones, but NOT osteoporosis
Like the name suggest, osteopenia and osteoporosis are related diseases. Both are varying degrees of bone loss, as measured by bone mineral density, a marker for how strong a bone is and the risk that it might break. If you think of bone mineral density as a slope, normal would be at the top and osteoporosis at the bottom. Osteopenia, which affects about half of Americans over age 50, would fall somewhere in between.
Everybody’s bones get weaker as the get older. But certain choices and habits accelerate the process.
They include but not limited to:
- Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Using certain medications
- Not getting enough weight bearing exercise
Women are far more likely to have low bone density then men.
Should I get a bone mineral density test?
Experts disagree about who should get their bone mineral density measured because its not clear that the benefits justify the cost. Consider this; 750 tests of women between the ages of 50-59 would need to be done to prevent just one hip or spine fracture over a 5 year period. From a societal point of view is that worth it?
Testing is recommended for:
- Women 65 and older
- Postmenopausal women younger that 65 who have one or more risk factors; which include being slight weight
- Postmenopausal women who have had a fracture
If you aren’t in the above categories done wait until its too late to start doing weight bearing exercises.
For me testing is done more on a case by case basis because the guidelines haven’t caught up to reality that bone health is also a male health concern.