Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by thinning and decreased strength of the bones and changes in the structure of the bone itself.
Osteopenia is very similar to osteoporosis, but at an earlier stage of bone loss.
If you picture a line or scale to describe the strength of bone then normal bone would be located at one end of a scale, osteoporosis at the other end of the scale, and osteopenia somewhere in the middle.
Although they can occur at any age, osteoporosis and osteopenia begin most frequently during the first five years of menopause. In fact, approximately 50% of women will break a bone due to osteoporosis at some point in their lifetime.
However, younger women and even children can be at risk to developing osteoporosis or osteopenia if they:
- have certain other diseases affecting bone development (such as Celiac Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- are taking steroids on a regular basis
- are an underweight athlete during the peak years of bone development.
Whatever your age, research studies show that physical therapy treatment can help teach you how to keep your bones healthy and help you to avoid fractures.