Osteopenia (Low Bone Density): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Diet & Treatment

Osteopenia (Low Bone Density): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Diet & Treatment
Osteopenia (Low Bone Density): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Diet & Treatment


Osteopenia is a situation that starts as you might lose your bone mass and bones get weak. It is not as severe as osteoporosis, but it should be taken seriously too. This occurs when the bone material that is present inside gets brittle because of the loss of calcium. It is quite common as you get older. Total bone mass reaches its higher point around the age of 35 years. People who are experiencing osteopenia are at increased risk of getting osteoporosis.  Osteopenia occurs when your bones get weaker than normal but it is not that they will easily break that is the symbol of having osteoporosis. Your bones are denser when you are around 30 normally.

Osteopenia, if it occurs at all, mostly happens after the age of 50 years. So the exact age relies on how strong your bones are at a young age. If they are tough then you might never have osteopenia. If your bones are not dense naturally, you might get it before. Exercise, diet, and some of the times medication might aid in keeping your bones strong and dense for so many years. Such a condition occurs when your body loses more bone than it is making. Some individuals are genetically susceptible to have it, having a family history of such a condition. if you are a woman then there is a higher chance that you might have it. Women have less bone mass in comparison to men. (1)

Also, women live quite long which means the age of their bones is more, and they do not get as much calcium as men get normally. Calcium is an essential nutrient that keeps your bone healthy. Hormone changes might occur at menopause raise the risk for osteopenia in women. While men having lower testosterone levels have increased odds of having it. If you are experiencing osteopenia, you might experience low bone density in comparison to normal. Your bone density is higher when you are around 35 years. Bone mineral density (BMD) is an evaluation of how much bone mineral is present in your bones.

The BMD calculates the risk of bone breakage from normal physical activities. Individuals who are having osteopenia have a low BMD in comparison to normal but it is not a disorder. Therefore, experiencing osteopenia does raise the risk of having osteoporosis. This bone disorder might lead to stooped posture, fractures and might lead to loss of height and severe pain. You might do something to cure osteopenia. The right food choices and exercise might aid in keeping your bones healthy and strong.

If you are having osteopenia, ask your healthcare provider regarding how you can enhance and stop worsening so you might avoid osteoporosis. Osteopenia is a reduction of bone mineral density (BMD) that makes your bones weak. It is mostly occurring in individuals who are above 50, particularly women. Osteopenia has no symptoms or signs but a screening test might measure the strength of your bone. It is a painless test. Therefore, some lifestyle changes might aid in preserving your density of bone and cure osteopenia.

1Osteopenia Symptoms

Osteopenia Symptoms
Osteopenia Symptoms

Osteopenia mostly does not lead to any symptoms or signs unless it progresses to osteoporosis. Some people who are having osteopenia rarely might experience weakness or bone pain. The condition is normally detected when an individual has a BMD screening. Therefore, osteopenia does not cause symptoms normally. Losing the density of bone does not lead to pain. (2)

How do you come to know that you are having osteopenia? There are some telltale symptoms in the following:

  • Brittle fingernails

Furthermore, if you are noticing that your fingernails are consistently breaking or quite easily than before, you might be experiencing osteopenia.

  • Height loss

If you are noticing that you are shrinking, it might be because of a painless (yes, maybe!) spinal fracture occurring in your back.

  • Retreating gum line

While it does not mean you have osteopenia definitely when the jaw bone reduces the density it might take gum with it.

  • Reduced grip strength

If you find yourself struggling with that peanut butter or Nutella jar lid or holding extra tight on the tub to not fall, it might mean that you are having osteopenia.

Know yourself some more with the symptoms and signs of osteopenia mentioned above. You must not panic right away if you start experiencing any of such symptoms as a one-off. But if they begin to happen consistently, visit or talk to your doctor and have a DEXA scan. Most people having osteopenia have no signs and symptoms at all and are not aware of such a condition. When they might happen,

some of the most occurring signs and symptoms of osteopenia consist of:

  • Problem while exercising typically because of injuries or pains
  • Dealing with aches and other bone pains that might affect the tissue that is near your bones, consisting of the joints
  • Suffering from each or more bone breaks or fractures. When a bone breakage happens, it is more likely to impact someone’s ankle, hip wrist, or spine.

When osteopenia develops and progresses to osteoporosis, the symptoms might consist of losing shrinking/height, because of the weakening of the vertebrae (the bones of the spine). While other symptoms of osteoporosis consist of:

  • Bad posture, consisting of a hunched or stooped back
  • All of the symptoms of osteopenia mentioned earlier

Lower mobility-limited range of motion, and difficulty with everyday activities because of the pain. Most people having excessive bone loss require aid from a loved one or an aid to perform things such as get around; cook etc. this might lead to psychological variations such as loss of hope, depression and social isolation, etc. Osteopenia is a condition of bone that is categorized by a reducing bone density but the density is not low enough to justify an osteoporosis diagnosis. Osteopenia might cause the weakening of bone and an increased chance of the breakage of bone (such as a bone fracture).

Osteopenia shows a reducing degree of loss of bone in comparison to osteoporosis. When there are some other risk factors shown (such as smoking, corticosteroid medication usage, and other conditions of bone) that might also raise the chance of bone fractures, then medications might be required. Osteopenia is an early symptom of bone density loss that is less serious in comparison to osteoporosis. While individuals having osteopenia are somewhat at increasing risk for fractures of bone, osteoporosis carries a much higher risk of bone fractures.