Osteoporosis and osteopenia are two terms that are both related to the bones in the human body and are often confused for one another. But it is important to understand that there are certain differences between the two that set them apart.

Where on one hand osteopenia refers to a condition in which the mineral density of the human body bones becomes lower than normal, osteoporosis is a condition where bones become brittle, weak and more prone to fractures. In osteoporosis, bones become weak due to either low mineral density or the overall deteriorating structure of bones. The following are some other points of differences between both these bone related medical conditions.

differences between osteoporosis and osteopenia

  • Where on one hand, osteoporosis is a very serious medical condition; osteopenia is considered a less severe one. Osteoporosis affects about 50% of Americans and for a disease to affect more than half the population of a country, is a rather alarming fact. Osteopenia is often considered to be the precursor to osteoporosis.
  • Osteopenia is low mineral density of bones but osteoporosis is porous bones. For a healthy adult human being, the average bone mineral density is 1500 kg per volume but anything lower than this can mean he/she is suffering from osteopenia. Normal wear and tear of bones can also be a reason for osteopenia and may begin as early as in the 30s.
  • There are no characteristic symptoms of osteopenia but osteoporosis is marked by serious symptoms or signs like fracture of bones which does not occur so commonly in the case of healthy people. Another serious symptom of osteoporosis includes tendency to experience fragility fractures on a repeated basis.
  • Osteopenia is usually caused or affected by lifestyle choices, exercise nutrition and eating habits but on the other hand, osteoporosis is caused due to many different reasons, for example, women may suffer from it due to menopause as well.
  • The treatment of osteoporosis is much more rigorous than osteopenia and this is yet another difference between the two. While in the case of osteoporosis, vitamin D is used and in some cases, even calcium supplementation has also helped people with osteoporosis. Some other commonly prescribed drugs used for treating this condition include raloxifene, calcitone and strontium. On the other hand, even simple exercises done on a regular basis can be enough to treat osteopenia.

Inspite of the many differences, both osteopenia and osteoporosis can be difficult and painful conditions to live your life with. This is why it is important to educate yourself on the maintenance and care of your skeletal system. Also, one must go for a bone density test especially when nearing or past the age of 50.

A healthy diet, a proper regime or physical exercises and a good lifestyle are very important to lead a life without any bone problems.  If you have noticed any of the symptoms of osteoporosis or osteopenia, then you must definitely go for a health check up today.