View Full Version : osteopenia

01-15-2010, 08:33 AM
I have been hoping to get a spinal fusion to correct my kyphosis. I am 27 and have had a curve since i was around 19 years old. It has got much worse and more painful over the last 4 years.
My GP ordered Xrays and has today said I have osteopenia and doesn't want to refer me to the surgeons as he says that a fusion is not appropriate with osteopenia. Has anyone else showing osteopenia? I would have thought osteopenia would be fairly common with kyphosis or scoliosis? Does it really rule out having a fusion?:(

I WISH I WAS 27!!! I AM 37!

01-15-2010, 09:36 AM
For the past 6 years, I've been taking Fosamax for osteopenia. I had spinal fusion in 2008. I was told there would be no problem. I just couldn't take the fosamax for the 1st 12 weeks after fusion.
You should request a Dexascan (that will be more accurate about the degree of osteo. you have) and still see a surgeon and let them decide if fusion is ok for you.
Good luck

01-15-2010, 09:58 AM
Sorry to hear you have osteopenia at your age. It is rather unusual for someone to develop it in her 20's. I strongly recommend that you follow up with your family doctor to address it because it will only get worse with age. It is important to find out what the underlying cause is.

If you have osteopenia, your bones are not regenerating as they should which is why a fusion would not work. Bones regenerate by a constant tear-down/build-up cycle. As we age, the tear-down part of the cycle keeps going but the build-up part starts to slow down so eventually bone is not being replaced as quickly as it is being broken apart. This leads to osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis Medicines address this by either slowing down the tear-down part or increasing the build-up part, or sometimes a combination of both. Diet and exercise are also important.

I had heard that osteoporisis was common with scoliosis. I asked my doctor about it and he said that bones will weaken if they are not load bearing and when there is a large curve, part or all of a spinal bone may not be bearing any load. When that happens, it is common for osteoporosis to develop in the area that is not bearing a load.

Hope this lay-person explanation helps. If you have more questions about osteoporosis/osteopenia, you might check out the National Osteoporosis Foundation at www.nof.org.


loves to skate
01-15-2010, 12:03 PM
Hi fandango,

I'm with Sharshe on this one. I had osteopenia about 3 or 4 years before my surgery and have been taking Fosamax with improvement. You most certainly can have a fusion if you have osteopenia. The difference is that with osteopenia, the Doctor can't get as good of a correction because the screws might pull out of the bone if there is too much stress put on the screws. Recovery time is probably a little longer, but with Fosamax and enough Calcium and Magnesium, you will fuse. Also, I had to wear a bone stimulator for nine months after my surgery. I don't know if a bone stimulator is possible with kyphosis. My x-rays show a solid fusion and a CAT scan that I had in November shows a solid fusion.

My advice would be not to wait too long to have the surgery as your osteopenia might get worse. Also, 52skeedoo is correct in that you should followup on why you have osteopenia at such a young age


01-15-2010, 12:22 PM
ditto...was told the osteopenia not a problem...


01-15-2010, 05:25 PM
thank you for answering. That is reassuring to hear. I really want to get referred to someone who knows what they are talking about, it worries me that GPs seem to know so little.

Oh, it was a typo - I am actually 37 not 27!! I wish :)

01-16-2010, 12:21 PM
Hi there,

I am curious to know how your GP diagnosed osteopenia. The reason I ask, I had x-rays done last year and two orthopedists commented that it looked like I had osteopenia. They both told me you can't diagnose that accurtely from a plain x-ray, but that a DEXA bone density scan is required. I had one based on their comments, and it came back within normal range, no osteopenia.

I would be inclined to ask for a DEXA scan to rule in or out the osteopenia issue. Also, my personal experience is that most GP's or internists know absolutely nothing about scoliosis/kyphosis and related back problems, so I wouldn't even put any stock in your GP's comments. Sorry, but yours sounds pretty out of touch. Can you arrange to see a spine surgeon who specializes in adult spinal deformities? You can search for one in your area at the Scoliosis Research Society, www.srs.org . Some insurance plans allow you to self-refer to specialists without a referral. Perhaps you can find out about that.

p.s. I like your new improved age! --by your method I would be 32! Sweet

Good luck!

01-16-2010, 02:07 PM
I'm sure before any surgery they would do a bone scan just to know what they are dealing with. I know I had one. Janet

01-18-2010, 09:26 AM
I will certainly ask for a dexascan! Tahnks for the info. The GP got that diagnoses from the radiograhers (not sure what the correct terminology is!!) comments. he was then, reluctant to refer me to anyone else. I haven't met him face to face yet - only had a conversation on the telephone. Hopefully he will instill more confidence when I go and see him

01-18-2010, 10:38 AM
I too have osteopenia... and that did not prevent me from having the surgery.

01-18-2010, 01:33 PM
It is unusual for someone to have osteopenia so soon.

Did they do blood work to check your Calcium, Vitamin D and Parathyroid levels. Not thyroid but parathryoid levels.

When the parathyroid goes out of whack it causes the calcium and vitamin D to not function well at all in the bone building process. We learned this from John's scoliosis dr. A year later his kidney dr wanted to check it too. All these systems are interconnected.

So while you are getting the Dexa scan, get the labs done too.

John has kyphosis too. 70-72 degree curve.

01-18-2010, 02:17 PM
Add me to the list of having osteopenia, which is the precursor of osteoporosis, and I had a large fusion to correct my kyphosis. I don't think it was ever discussed at all by any of the surgeons I saw before I chose Dr. Rand. It just didn't come up.