How are your bones? Do you know? We are naturally concerned about our blood pressure and possible cancer symptoms, but how often do you consider your bone strength. If you have reached the age of 50, you should become knowledgeable about the difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Just from their names you can tell osteopenia and osteoporosis are related. Osteopenia is the thinning of bone mass. Adults reach their peak of bone mineral density at age 35, but begin to lose bone mass after that. It provides a marker for how strong bones are and how fragile they may be, causing breaks. One half of Americans over the age of 50 have osteopenia.
Osteopenia is not considered severe, but it is a serious risk factor for the development of osteoporosis. If you think of bone mass as a slope, normal would be at the very top and osteoporosis at the bottom. Osteopenia would be somewhere in the middle.
Osteoporosis is caused by a deficiency in calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. As it progresses it can lead to fractures, loss of height, a stooped over posture, humpback, and severe pain.
Being female with small bones is a risk factor for osteopenia.
Additional risk factors include the following:
You can measure the amount of calcium in your bones with a DEXA test or a Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry scan. It usually recommended for women over age 65 and compares your bone density with that of a normal 30 year old of the same sex.
It measures whether you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. The test is non-invasive and painless. Talk with Weirton Medical Center about getting a DEXA scan to measure your own bone density.
The goal of treatment is to prevent osteopenia from developing into osteoporosis. This is accomplished by altering your lifestyle and making some dietary changes. The chances of fractures with osteopenia are low, so most likely you will not be given medication at this point unless you are close to the osteoporosis levels.
Maintain a healthy diet with foods high in calcium, Vitamin D, C, and K, and eat more low fat dairy like cheese, milk, and yogurt. Look for cereals fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and include foods like spinach, freshwater salmon and broccoli. Your doctor may recommend you take supplements.
Walking, running, and jumping for 30 minutes most days will help to strengthen bones.
Avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.
If you are a woman over the age of 65, contact Weirton Medical Center at (304) 797-6DOC to get a DEXA scan to measure your bone mineral density and your risk for fractures and osteoporosis.