What are the treatments for osteopenia?

Written by kathy sheehan
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Osteopenia, which is a thinning of the bones, is a condition that affects both men and women. It occurs when bone formation is not fast enough to keep up with normal bone loss. Osteopenia is considered the beginning of osteoporosis, which is a more serious condition that causes bones to become brittle and more prone to shatter. Bone loss can be reversed, but it requires perseverance.

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Causes

There is no one cause for Osteopenia. It can occur as the result of a combination of factors. Heredity can be important. If someone in your family suffers from osteoporosis or has had a major fracture, such as a hip fracture, that can be an indication that you have a genetic link to the disease. Stress, excessive caffeine, tobacco use or your eating patterns also can lead to bone loss.

Risk Factors

The World Health Organization has guidelines for physicians to help predict patients' risk for a major fracture. These guidelines take into consideration things such as family history of osteoporosis, whether or not you are a smoker, age, bone mineral density tests, and use of oral steroids. The physician arrives at a score using these guidelines and that score will indicate the risk of a major fracture.

Testing

Osteopenia can be diagnosed with a simple X-ray or a highly specialised X-ray called a dexa scan, which is specially created for this condition. Dexa scans measure bone mineral density. The dexa scan is more accurate than a regular X-ray, and less costly than a CAT scan. There is very little preparation for the test and it takes less than 30 minutes.

Diet and Exercise

Treatment for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis can vary. To treat the condition with diet, it is recommended that a person cut back on foods that are high in acid such as meat, soda and legumes, and increase foods that are high in alkaline, such as dairy, fruit and vegetables. Another way to help this condition is exercise. Before starting on a program of exercise, check with your health care professional. Do not begin any exercise program that would cause harm to already fragile bones. Tai chi is another form of exercise. It is a series of exercises that have been found to improve balance and reduce stress and can be done in your own home.

Medication

Prescription medications are another way to treat this condition. There are several prescription medications on the market and your physician can prescribe and discuss the benefits of each with you. A new prescription food marketed under the brand name of Fosteum is also a medication that may be a possibility to explore. It comes in capsule form and does require a prescription from your physician. The last treatment is supplements. These can range from calcium supplements to vitamin K. Before starting any supplements, make sure to talk with your health care professional. Get his recommendation for the best supplement. Once treatment has begun, whether it is diet and exercise, or medication or a combination of both, it can take up to two years to see results.

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