Were you told you've lost bone density? Does it make you worry about your fracture risk? Find out if you need treatment—and why.
Osteopenia isn't a disease, and it doesn't mean that you are in immediate danger of breaking a hip or other bone. But having osteopenia means your bones are weaker, more porous and at greater risk of fracture.
Bone mineral density test and T-scores
Ordinary x-rays don't detect bone loss until over 30% of bone has been lost. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests detect loss sooner. Usually done by means of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans, results are often given as a "T-score."
A T-score compares your bone density to the average density for a person of your gender who is between the ages of 25 and 35-—when bone density is at its peak.
A score between +1 and -1 is normal, a score between -1 and -2.5 is considered osteopenia and a score lower than -2.5 is considered osteoporosis.
If a woman has a BMD test that reveals osteopenia, she may assume that she needs medication to strengthen her bones and reduce her fracture risk.
Knowing your risk factors
Bone density is only one indicator of fracture risk. Other factors that influence your vulnerability to fracture include:
Bone-boosting lifestyle changes and medications
When osteopenia is accompanied by other risk factors, preventive strategies such as the ones listed below are recommended:
For now, a finding of osteopenia should not be a cause for alarm‚ or an indication that medication is required‚ unless additional factors place you at very high risk of a fracture.