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    Osteoporosis Definitions

    At Novant Health Osteoporosis Clinic, we want you to be an active participant in your medical care. That starts with understanding some terms related to osteoporosis. Read below to learn the definition of osteoporosis as well as other related words.


    Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. This means your bones have lost density or mass and that the structure of your bone tissue has become abnormal. As your bones become less dense, they also become weaker and more likely to break.


    Osteopenia is a condition defined by bone mineral density that is lower than normal, but not low enough to indicate osteoporosis. Patients with osteopenia are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

    Bone Mineral Density

    Bone mineral density is a measure of minerals including calcium in the bone. As people age, bones lose minerals faster than the body can replace them. The result is lower bone mineral density, which can become osteopenia or osteoporosis.

    DEXA Scan

    A DEXA scan is the most accurate way to measure bone mineral density. DEXA stands for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. This non-invasive test involves X-ray beams aimed at the spine and hip. The amount of X-ray beam that passes through the bone indicates how dense the bone is. Yearly DEXA scans can show how much bone density is lost year to year.