Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Osteopenia is decreased bone density but not to
the extent of osteoporosis. This decreased bone density leads to bone fragility
and an increased chance of breaking a bone (fracture).
About 34 million people
in the U.S. have osteopenia, and 50% of Caucasian women will fracture a bone in
Women over the age of 65 and any postmenopausal woman with
risk factors for bone loss should be tested for osteopenia or osteoporosis. The
DXA scan is a widely available and accurate method for diagnosing osteopenia or
Not everyone with osteopenia requires treatment with
prescription medications; your doctor can determine if you should be treated
based on your bone density and other risk factors.
An adequate intake of
calcium and vitamin D, avoiding excessive alcohol, not smoking, and getting
plenty of exercise can help prevent osteopenia.
What is osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a bone condition characterized by a decreased density of bone,
which leads to bone weakening and an increased risk of breaking a bone
(fracture). Osteopenia and osteoporosis are related conditions. The difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis is that in osteopenia the bone loss is not as severe as in osteoporosis. That means someone with osteopenia is more likely to fracture a bone than someone with a normal bone density but is less likely to fracture a bone than someone with osteoporosis.
Osteomalacia, osteomyelitis, and osteoarthritis are different conditions that
are frequently confused with osteopenia because they sound similar. Osteomalacia
is a disorder of the mineralization of newly formed bone, which causes the bone
to be weak and more prone to fracture. There are many causes of osteomalacia,
including vitamin D deficiency and low blood phosphate levels. Osteomyelitis is
bone infection. Osteoarthritis is joint inflammation featuring cartilage loss
and is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis does not cause
osteopenia, osteoporosis, or a decreased bone mineral density.
It is important to note that while osteopenia is considered a lesser degree of bone loss than osteoporosis, it nevertheless can be of concern when it is associated with other risk factors (such as smoking, cortisone steroid usage, rheumatoid arthritis, family history of osteoporosis, etc.) that can increase the chances for developing vertebral, hip, and other fractures. In this setting, osteopenia may require medication as part of the treatment program.