Osteopenia & Treatment

Updated July 19, 2017

Bone thinning is a natural part of the ageing process. Osteopenia is a condition that occurs when the bones have thinned beyond what is considered to be normal. Doctors rely on a person's bone mineral density (BMD) to determine how thin the bones are. Several types of treatment methods are available to help reverse the effects of bone loss caused by osteopenia.

DXA Scans

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans are used to determine a person's BMD. This type of scan reveals bone loss much sooner than a traditional X-ray without exposing a person to the high radiation levels of a CAT scan. The results of a DXA scan come in two forms. A T Score is your level of BMD compared to a peak BMD. A normal T Score is anything above a -1. A T Score that indicates the presence of osteopenia falls between -1 and -2.5. Osteoporosis is diagnosed if the T Score falls below -2.5. A Z Score is your level of BMD compared to a person of similar age and physical appearance. If you are diagnosed with osteopenia, regular DXA scans are performed in order to determine the progression or reversal of the condition.


Understanding the factors that may be responsible for causing the osteopenia will be helpful during the treatment process. Certain lifestyle factors, such as the frequent consumption of alcohol and caffeine, can play a role in the development of osteopenia. Eating disorders that prevent the proper absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream can also lead to this condition. People with asthma, cancer, diabetes, lupus, and colitis may also experience problems with thinning bones during their lifetime.

Treatment Considerations

It may take a number of years for bone loss to reverse itself with the help of treatment. When creating a treatment plan with your doctor, it will be important to choose options you will be comfortable doing for an extended period of time. There are numerous treatment options available to help reverse the effects of osteopenia. Some doctors will recommend a combination of treatment options to achieve the best results. If you do not see any improvement in your DXA score over time, it may be necessary to re-evaluate your treatment plan with your doctor.


As part of your osteopenia treatment plan, you doctor may recommend a number of supplements. Calcium is a commonly recommended supplement that can prevent bone mass from deteriorating. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. Magnesium can help prevent any fracturing of the bones by improving their density. To help bones grow, Vitamin K is a useful supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the amount of calcium that is excreted through urine. This supplement also helps the body absorb more calcium.


Exercise is another fundamental part of an osteopenia treatment plan. The right exercise can not only help you to avoid fractures, it can also help to reverse bone loss. Balance and coordination exercises are useful to prevent falls that can lead to serious bone fractures. Exercise that includes weight-bearing activities is a great way to strengthen your bones. Aerobics, jogging and tennis are great activities to include in your treatment plan.

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About the Author

Casey Quinn is a freelance writer and the editor of the magazine "Short Story Library." He has been featured in publications such as “Writer’s Digest” and “The Dollar Stretcher.” Quinn has a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.