Bone density testing: simple, easy, and essential
A bone density test is the only way to accurately measure your bone mass and risk for fracture from osteoporosis.
It's fast, easy, and you don't even have to change into an examining robe.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis (porous bone) is a health threat for 28 million Americans, 80% of whom are women. Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone density and structural deterioration of bone tissue with the increased risk of bone fracture, especially to the hip, spine, and wrist. The National Institute for Health (NIH) estimates that 8 million women and 2 million men have osteoporosis and 18 million more suffer from low bone density.
Some other startling statistics from the NIH regarding osteoporosis:
- One out of two women and one in eight men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
- Osteoporosis is responsible for 1.5 million fractures annually including...
- 300,000 hip fractures
- 700,000 vertebral (spine) fractures
- 250,000 wrist fractures
- 300,000 other fractures
- The cost for caring for these fractures is $38 million per day in the USA
Most people will not know that they have weak bones until a fall or strain causes a fracture. Some symptoms do exist though. They are: severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities seen as stooped posture.
Some people are more at risk for osteoporosis. Other risk factors can be controlled. The risk factors are listed below.
- Being female
- Having a thin or small frame
- Being older
- Having a family history of osteoporosis
- Being postmenopausal
- Having abnormal or no menstrual periods
- Having an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia
- Eating a diet low in calcium
- Using certain medications, such as corticosteriods and anticonvulsants
- Being male with a low testosterone level
- Having an inactive lifestyle
- Smoking cigarettes
- Using alcohol excessively
- Being Caucasian or Asian, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans are at significant risk as well
Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5-7 years after menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.
In many cases, bone density goes undetected until a patient suffers a fracture. A bone density test can detect osteoporosis before a fracture so that steps may be taken to control the loss of bone density.
It is important to have a bone density measurement to be used to monitor your rate of loss over the years (some bone loss is inevitable as a part of natural aging). Using information collected over several tests, your doctor can evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.
A bone density test can be performed painlessly and quickly in- house at Granite Medical (the photo above was taken at Granite Medical). The system measures bone density at several critical sites in the body to estimate the condition of your bones.
Preventing bone loss is the key. The average woman has acquired 98% of her bone mass by the age of 20. Building strong bones in childhood and adolescence is the best protection against osteoporosis but there are steps you can take at any age.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Perform weight-bearing exercise, such as walking
- Live a healthy lifestyle with no smoking and only limited alcohol intake
- Have your bone density checked when recommended by your doctor or nurse practitioner
There is no cure for osteoporosis; however, there are several medications approved by the FDA for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.
If you have any questions or to schedule an appointment with a Granite Medical Physician or Nurse Practitioner, please contact us.