Osteopenia is a term to define bone density that is not normal but also not as low as osteoporosis. By definition from the World Health Organization osteopenia is defined by bone densitometry as a T score -1 to -. There are many causes for osteopenia including calcium and vitamin D deficiency and inactivity. Genetics plays an important role in a person's bone mineral density and often Caucasian women with a thin body habitus who are premenopausal are found to have osteopenia. Correction of calcium and vitamin D deficiency and walking 3 to 5 miles a week can often improve bone density in the hip and spine. There are a variety of pharmaceutical agents that have been recommended for the treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis including hormone replacement therapy, selective estrogen receptor modulator therapy, anti-resorptive therapy. In addition patients with osteoporosis who have failed anti-resorptive therapy can have a significant improvement in their bone density with anabolic therapy.
Steroid-induced osteoporosis (SIOP) is osteoporosis arising due to use of glucocorticoids (steroid hormones) - analogous to Cushing's syndrome and involving mainly the axial skeleton. The synthetic glucocorticoid prescription drug prednisone is a main candidate after prolonged intake. Bisphosphonates are beneficial in reducing the risk of vertebral fractures.  Some professional guidelines recommend prophylactic calcium and vitamin D supplementation in patients who take the equivalent of more than 30 mg hydrocortisone ( mg of prednisolone), especially when this is in excess of three months.   The use of thiazide diuretics, and gonadal hormone replacement has also been recommended, with the use of calcitonin, bisphosphonates, sodium fluoride or anabolic steroids also suggested in refractory cases.  Alternate day use may not prevent this complication.