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Osteoporosis

Osteopenia and its Effects on Different Bones

05/06/2003

Question:

I am a 36 year old female and have been recently diagnosed with osteopenia as a result of an orthopedic doctor spotting it in my knee while reviewing an x-ray of my post-surgery knee. Should I be concerned that all of my bones have this condition, or is it possible that it can only affect certain bones as in my knee? Is it possible that this osteopenia diagnosis could have occurred as a result from having a faulty knee surgery (ie, kneecap improperly positioned)? Should I see my family doctor for a bone density test? I was advised by my orthopedic to immediately start taking 1200-1600 mgs. of calcium per day.

Answer:

Osteopenia can be present in varying degrees in different bones. Lack of activity and disuse can contribute to osteopenia in the bones that are not being used as much. If you have other reasons to have low bone density, such as a history of anorexia nervosa (eating disorder resulting in extreme thinness), premature menopause or frequent use of steroid medications, it may be appropriate to get a bone density test. Otherwise, the tests are not usually ordered for premenopausal women. Adequate calcium, vitamin D and exercise are very important for maintaining normal bone.

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Response by:

Margery   Gass, MD Margery Gass, MD
Formely, Professor, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati