What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a diagnosis of very low bone density. Patients with osteoporosis are at risk for broken bones, with potentially serious consequences.
Osteopenia represents low bone density. Patients with osteopenia are also at risk for broken bones and are at risk for developing osteoporosis.
Bone density (also known as bone mineral density, or BMD) is measured by a DEXA (or DXA) scan. This test involves X-rays of the hips, wrists, and spine. The density measured is then compared to a person with normal bone density.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease without symptoms for most people. However, people with osteoporosis are at risk for broken bones. Some bones are at much higher risk of fracture than others, including spinal vertebrae. Someone with osteoporosis and back pain may have a compression fracture of the spine. Most patients won't need an operation, and pain can be controlled with oral medication. If the pain is severe and not improving, it may be treated with a minimally-invasive operation called a kyphoplasty.