If, like me you had never heard of osteopenia then I will explain what this condition is. Web MD write that you should think of it as a midpoint between having healthy bones and having osteoporosis.

Osteopenia is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis. Your bones are usually at their densest when you’re about 30. Osteopenia, if it happens at all, usually occurs after age 50. The exact age depends how strong your bones are when you’re young. If they’re hardy, you may never get osteopenia. If your bones aren’t naturally dense, you may get it earlier.

Osteopenia — or seeing it turn into osteoporosis for that matter — is not inevitable. Dietexercise, and sometimes medication can help keep your bones dense and strong for decades.

Recently I was asked to go for a bone scan to look for osteoporosis due to ongoing pain in both my hips, or at least that was what I thought the scan was for. The results came back that I have osteopenia and I have now been put on some medication and they are arranging for me to see a Physiotherapist to start some core strength and weight bearing exercises to avoid it turning into osteoporosis.

When I asked the GP if this was causing my hip pain she said there is no pain associated with osteopenia unless you break a bone. My GP then started asking me a few questions about my hip pain and asked me to pop over and see her. She is now 99% sure that I am suffering from bursitis and is referring me to an Orthopedic Consultant. So, from the pain clinic sending me for a bone scan for hip pain which showed osteopenia I now also have another problem with bursitis which I will cover in another post.

Ortho Atlanta explains about osteopenia and osteoporosis that while these diseases do have some similarities, there are also distinct differences between them. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Osteoporosis means “porous bones.” Bones that are porous, or less dense, are more likely to break. A person with osteoporosis may also walk with a stooped back. Osteopenia is considered a midway point to osteoporosis; the bone density is lower than normal but not as severe and treating it may slow the progression bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Bone mineral density (BMD) measures the level of calcium in the bones. The lower this level is, the more likely a person is to sustain bone fractures. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are both diseases in which the bone density is low. 

Serious injuries can occur as a result of osteoporosis. Because persons diagnosed with osteoporosis have lost a lot of bone mass, their bones, more porous, and brittle, can fracture from something as simple as a sneeze or a minor fall. Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine. Known as vertebral compression fractures, fractures in the spine are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists. Osteopenia isn’t quite as serious as osteoporosis because the bones aren’t as porous and measures can be taken to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can’t be reversed; however, it can be managed using the same treatments recommended for osteopenia. In addition to diet and exercise, there are medications the doctor may recommend to help prevent further bone loss.