Osteopenia is a bone condition characterized by a decreased density of bone, but the density is not decreased enough to warrant a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Osteopenia leads to bone weakening and an increased risk of breaking a bone (fracture). Osteopenia represents a lesser degree of bone loss than osteoporosis. When there are other risk factors present (like corticosteroid medication use, smoking, or other bone conditions) that also increase the risk of bone fractures, medications may be required.
Osteopenia causes and risk factors
Osteopenia can be related to a genetic predisposition to early bone loss. It can also occur due to hormonal factors, such as decreased estrogen levels after menopause, immobility, certain medications, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and certain medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. Osteopenia does not cause pain or other symptoms unless a bone is broken.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Osteoporosis Quiz: What is Osteoporosis?
What are the causes, symptoms, and risk factors of osteoporosis? Quiz yourself about vitamin deficiency, maintaining bone...
Osteoporosis Super-Foods for Strong Bones With Pictures
What sweetener is loaded with calcium? These bone-building super foods can help stave off osteoporosis, and many of them will...
Picture of Osteoporosis
Thinning of the bones with reduction in bone mass due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. See a picture of Osteoporosis and...
Picture of Osteoporosis Progression
Bone mass (bone density) is the amount of bone present in the skeletal structure. See a picture of Osteoporosis Progression and...
What Is Osteoporosis? Treatment, Symptoms, Medication
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and density. Osteoporosis causes symptoms of weak, thin, fragile bones....
Causes of Osteopenia
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as...
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food. Anorexia is a serious...
Celiac disease is a condition in which a person has inflammation of the small intestinal mucosa when exposed to gluten in the...
Cystic fibrosis is a disease of the mucus and sweat glands. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease. The outcome of the disease...
Hyperparathyroidism is a disorder of the parathyroid glands. There are two types of hyperparathyroidism, primary and secondary....
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone resulting from an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased...
Low Testosterone (Low T)
Low testosterone (low-T) can be caused by conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver or kidney disease, hormonal...
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause...
Osteopenia is a bone condition characterized by bone loss that is not as severe as in osteoporosis. Bone fracture is the typical...
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints,...
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or...
Other Causes of Osteopenia
Examples of Medications for Osteopenia
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Women's Health Newsletter