Do you or a loved one have osteoporosis? Then there is a good chance you know about bone density tests. If not, it’s unlikely that you know what this test is. That’s because bone density testing is used exclusively and is the sole diagnostic test to diagnose osteoporosis. If you don’t know or have never heard of osteoporosis, here is something that might make you take notice: widely considered a national public health threat, more than 44 million men and women aged 50 and over suffer from osteoporosis and low bone-mass. These shocking statistics now might have you wondering, what is osteoporosis and when should you get a bone density test.
What is Osteoporosis?
A healthy bone is dense from the inside and does not have large empty holes or gaps within it. The denser the bone, the stronger it is. The bones of those with osteoporosis have started to lose density, and soon start to hollow out. A healthy bone resembles a honeycomb, with thick tissue and mass throughout the bone. With osteoporosis, the bones become porous and the holes in the honeycomb become larger. The less dense or porous the bone, the higher the likelihood it will break.
Bones and Age
As we age, it become common for to lose some bone density, however, individuals with osteoporosis experience significantly higher bone density loss than their peers. Unfortunately, osteoporosis often goes undiagnosed until the condition becomes such that it is noticeable – slouching, dowager’s humps – that the bones already have sustained serious damage. Sadly, for many older people, osteoporosis is diagnosed when a bone breaks and doctors are able to see the bone from the inside. However, the bone density test helps doctors diagnose osteoporosis before the condition can do severe damage.
How does a Bone Density Test Work?
A bone density test determines how your bone density has changed overtime, whether you have osteoporosis, if the osteoporosis medications you are taking are effective, and what your chances are of breaking a bone.
During a bone density test, the technician will have you lay on a platform while a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry – that’s DXA or DEXA – passes over the body. Because osteoporosis does not progress equally throughout the body, the machine measures the density throughout the body instead of only a few bones. The test exposes the patient to a very small amount of radiation, less than what a chest X-ray involves. The test takes about 30 minutes to complete and is painless.
Should I get a Bone Density Test Done?
If you are wondering whether you need a bone density test, here are some things to ask yourself and share with your doctor.
- Have you experienced a stooped posture or loss of height over the years?
- Have you had multiple fractures that seem to happen without a lot of force?
- Do you experience back and neck pain?
- Do you have a family history of adults having fractured bones or osteoporosis?
- Has an x-Ray shown broken bones in your spine?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it would be wise to discuss getting tested for osteoporosis with your doctor – especially if you’re above the age of 65. However, if you have other series risk factors, you may consider getting tested as early as 50, especially if you are a post-menopausal woman. An early diagnosis can help you take control of your condition by making the right lifestyle changes. Exercises, diet, supplements, and rest all can contribute to you long, healthy, and happy life.
Total Orthopaedic Care have specialized education and experience working on a variety of orthopedic conditions including osteoporosis. They offer a wealth of knowledge and state of the art equipment for your needs. If you think you should get a bone density test or may have osteoporosis, all 954-735-3535 or schedule an appointment online at the Pembroke Pines or Lauderdale Lakes offices.