Osteopenia is the term used when bone density is lower than normal but not as low as it gets with osteoporosis.
You do not have osteoporosis but are at risk of developing it. It is important to do the following things to prevent bone loss to reduce your risk of fracture (usually of hip or spine):
• Perform weight bearing exercises 5-6 days each week. (wt. bearing exercises are ones that use either your own body or a weight against gravity: ex. walking, running, yoga, pilates, wt. lifting; swimming is not a wt. bearing exercise unless weights are added in the water)
• Adequate Calcium and Vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplements. (Vitamin D needs calcium in order to be absorbed in the body)
Foods rich in Vitamin D are milk, orange juice or yogurt with added vitamin D, Cereals with added vitamin D, Cooked salmon or mackerel, Canned tuna fish, Cod liver oil.*
*Recommended daily intake: Calcium 1200mg/day; Vitamin D 600-800 IU (international units)/day
Osteoporosis indicates bone loss that increases your chances of fracturing bones. There are treatment options for osteoporosis that can be prescribed. There are things you can do in addition to taking medication to reduce your risk of falls, such as exercise daily to decrease bone loss and improve your balance and eat a diet with adequate Vitamin D and Calcium to protect bones. (See recommendations above).
Bone Density Testing/DEXA scan (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry)
DEXA scans are the most useful and reliable bone density tests. It has low radiation and measures bone density of the spine and hips. This test can predict the chances that you will break a bone and monitor how well treatments are working. Results are reported as “T scores” and “Z scores”. The “T score” is the most important.
• T-score between +1 and -1 indicates normal bone density. No treatment is needed, other than prevention of bone loss.
• T-score between -1.1 and -2.4 indicates Osteopenia or moderate risk of fracture.
• T-score of -2.5 or less indicates osteoporosis and high risk of fracture.
• Dexa scans are typically repeated every 2 years.
• CT scans can also be reliable tests of bone density but exposes patients to more radiation than DEXA scans.
• Ultrasound testing of heel can be used to measure bone density as a screening tool, but is not typically used to monitor effects of treatment.