What are the differences between osteopenia and osteoporosis?


Quick Answer

The difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis is the amount of bone mineral density loss in the patient, explains SpineUniverse. A patient with osteoporosis has a greater degree of bone mineral density loss than a patient with osteopenia, and patients with osteopenia are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis. Patients with a diagnosis of osteoporosis require treatment with medications to increase bone mass and must make lifestyle changes, including more exercise and a better diet.

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Full Answer

Bone mineral density is the amount of calcium in the bones, and measuring it helps doctors determine a patient's risk of bone fractures, says SpineUniverse. Doctors also use bone mineral density tests to diagnose osteopenia and osteoporosis. The lower a patient's score, the greater degree of bone loss they have.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from low bone mass, especially after menopause, with Asian and Caucasian women at highest risk, reports SpineUniverse. Patients with a family history of bone mass loss face a highly increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Certain diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, Cushing's Syndrome and hyperparathyroidism, also increase a person's risk of losing bone mass. Other risk factors include a diet lacking in calcium and vitamin D, excessive alcohol or caffeine intake, smoking and lack of exercise.

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