What is spinal osteopenia?


Quick Answer

Spinal osteopenia is a condition where the bone density of the spine is lower than normal, but not severe enough to be diagnosed as osteoporosis, explains WebMD. Bone density measures the strength of the bones. A diagnosis of spinal osteopenia indicates that patients are at risk for osteoporosis if the bone density continues to deteriorate.

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Full Answer

Spinal osteopenia develops over time as bones naturally become thinner and patients age, according to WebMD. The aging process causes bones to lose mass, structure and minerals, which increases the risk of breakage or injury because the bones are weaker.

Risk factors that contribute to spinal osteopenia include metabolism problems and eating disorders that rob the body of essential minerals and vitamins, notes WebMD. Medications such as steroids or chemotherapy also can reduce mass and structure of bones. People who have a family history of osteoporosis as well as white, thin or Asian individuals are at an increased risk of developing osteopenia.

Lifestyle habits such as limited physical activity, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and cola drinks, and smoking can increase the risk for developing osteopenia, according to WebMD. The condition does not commonly produce symptoms, but patients are at an increased risk of breaking bones when the density is lower in the spine.

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