General or Other | - Others | Osteopenia (Disease)


Osteopenia is defined as low bone density caused in decreased amount of calcium and phosphorus in the bone. Osteopenia is often a precursor to osteoporosis, a common condition of brittle bones that can result in fracture. The two medical terms are sometimes confused and its important to know the difference and how each is related to arthritis.

The biggest difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis is that osteopenia is not considered a disease while osteoporosis is. Instead, osteopenia is considered a marker for risk of fractures.

Causes and Risk factors

Osteopenia is caused in decreased amount of calcium and phosphorus in the bone.

During the last 3 months of pregnancy, large amounts of calcium and phosphorus are transferred from the mother to the baby so that the babys bones will grow. A premature infant may not receive the proper amount of calcium and phosphorus needed to form strong bones. While in the womb, fetal activity increases during the last 3 months of pregnancy. This activity is thought to be important for bone development. Most very premature infants have limited physical activity, which may also contribute to weak bones. Very premature babies lose much more phosphorus in their urine than do babies that are born full term.

A lack of vitamin D may also lead to osteopenia in infants. Vitamin D helps with the body absorb calcium from the intestines and kidneys. If babies do not receive or make enough vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous will not be properly absorbed.

A liver problem called cholestasis may also cause problems with vitamin D levels. Diuretics or steroids can also cause low calcium levels.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The bone density mass will be measuredand a special X-ray will be performed.

Therapy is aimed at decreasing the rate of bone loss and preventing the patient from acquiring osteoporosis. Treatment includes: increasing exercise, and better nutrition including increased vitamin D and calcium ingestion. The healthcare provider may prescribe medications used to treat osteoporosis. ...