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Disuse osteopenia is the localized loss of bone secondary to the lack of normal mechanical stresses on the bone. This is usually due to decreased use or even complete immobilization of a limb. Common causes include fractures, neuromuscular diseases, paralysis, frailty, arthritis and voluntary inactivity/sedentary lifestyle.
The loss of bone mass has to be substantial before it is subjectively visible on plain radiographs, usually 30-50% 2.
The main radiographic feature is the loss of bone density in a regional/localized distribution (cf. generalized osteopenia/osteoporosis). On plain radiographs, this is usually a subjective assessment. On DEXA or CT quantitative, measurements can be performed 1. DEXA tends to be preferred, primarily due to its availability and much lower radiation dose.
Any cause of regional osteopenia:
- 1. Schreiber JJ, McQuillan TJ, Halilaj E, Crisco JJ, Weiss AP, Patel T, Kenney D, Ladd AL. Changes in Local Bone Density in Early Thumb Carpometacarpal Joint Osteoarthritis. (2018) The Journal of hand surgery. 43 (1): 33-38. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2017.09.004 - Pubmed
- 2. B. J. Manaster, David A. May, David G. Disler. Musculoskeletal Imaging,The Requisites (Expert Consult- Online and Print),4. (2019) ISBN: 9780323081771