Osteopenia is a condition where your bones are weaker than normal healthy bones. It is the medical term used to describe low bone density. When someone has low bone density they are at a higher risk of breaking their bones than people with normal bone density. Osteoporosis Australia predicts around 6.3 million Australians are affected by Osteopenia.
Osteopenia is the precursor to Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis has lower bone density levels than osteopenia and therefore the bones are weaker. Osteopenia doesn’t always develop into Osteoporosis. Depending on what your risk factors are, you can modify some lifestyle factors that will help to improve your bone mineral density. Some risk factors include low body weight, taking glucocorticoid (steroid) medication for long periods, post-menopause, low calcium, low Vitamin D and low levels of exercise.
If you are interested in how you can modify your lifestyle factors to help improve your bone density or prevent osteopenia developing into osteoporosis have a read of this blog on bone health.
Generally, there are no symptoms for osteopenia or osteoporosis. Usually your first sign will be a broken bone after a fall which wouldn’t typically result in a broken bone. By this stage you may already have Osteoporosis.
How do we test for Osteopenia or Osteoporosis?
Your Physio will ask you about a variety of factors which may put you at risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis. If they think you are at risk of having osteopenia or osteoporosis they may send you to your GP to have a bone mineral density scan.
According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association a fracture occurs every 3.4 minutes in Australia as a result of Osteoporosis. This is expected to rise to 2.9 minutes by 2022. If you think you are at risk of having Osteopenia or Osteoporosis speak to one of our Bend + Mend Physio’s today to discuss your preventative treatment options.