Low bone density (osteopenia) is when your bone density is lower than normal, but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. It may mean that you have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis if you lose bone in the future because you have less bone to lose. People with low bone density are more likely to break a bone compared to people with normal bone density.
A bone density test will determine whether you have normal bone density, low bone density or osteoporosis. Having low bone density does not necessarily mean you are losing bone. Your bone density may still be considered normal for you. Some people never have normal bone density for a variety of reasons, such as genetics (your genes), body size or certain diseases and conditions. The older you are the more likely you are to have low bone density.
The result of your bone density test as a special number called a T-score. A T-score between –1.0 and –2.5 means you have low bone density. Examples are having a T-score of -1.2, -1.5, -2.0 and -2.2. A person with a T-score of -2.2 has lower bone density than a person with a T-score of -1.2.
If you have low bone density, your healthcare provider may recommend an osteoporosis medicine.. Be sure to talk about the risks and benefits of taking (or not taking) a medicine. The fracture risk assessment tool, FRAX can be used to estimate your chance of breaking a bone within the next 10 years. This online tool can help you decide whether you might benefit from taking an osteoporosis medicine at this time.