Osteopenia and osteoporosis are both issues with bone density. However, what they mean for a patient may differ greatly. It is important that everyone, but especially the elderly or those caring for the elderly, understand these conditions. In this article, we will explore the difference and similarities between both osteopenia and osteoporosis, as well as when you should contact your doctor to learn more. Both of these conditions could potentially be very serious, so it is important to educate yourself as best you can about each of them.
Osteopenia is often considered a condition that could serve as a precursor to other bone issues, like osteoporosis, but it is not a medical condition. Patients with osteopenia are said to have bone density that is somewhat lower than it should typically be. For some, this may sound like a huge deal. Some medical professionals, though, have felt very strongly that being, “diagnosed,” with osteopenia is not always something to be very concerned about. Instead, it may just mean that your body is experiencing things that regularly occur during old age. But if you have other risk factors for osteoporosis, and are told that you do have osteopenia, you may want to think about preventative medicine that you can employ.
Osteoporosis, unlike osteopenia, is an actual medical condition. Patients diagnosed with osteoporosis have a bone density issue caused by a degenerative disease that causes bones to become more fragile over time. Whereas osteopenia just relates to bone mineral density, osteoporosis also encompasses protein changes within the bones, along with lowered bone mineral density, and other issues. Osteoporosis can mean that patients may be at risk for fractures. Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, which can occur in either men or women, though tends to occur more in the elderly, lifestyle changes can help to prevent further injury to the bones.
Contacting Your Doctor
If you believe that you or someone you love may have osteoporosis, you should contact your doctor. The scary thing is that there are really no symptoms of osteoporosis. You should ask about tests that can determine you bone mineral density if you want to be on the lookout for either osteopenia or osteoporosis. In this way, if needed, you can change your diet and lifestyle to possible help prevent further risks. At this time, this is really all that can be done in the case of either of these conditions.