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Bone mass measurements (bone density)

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes loss of bone mass and decline in bone quality leading to fragile bones and risk of fractures. Although all bones can be affected by the disease, the bones of the spine, hip, and wrist are most likely to break.

Who is at risk

Women who are thin or have a small frame are at higher risk, as are those who smoke, drink more than moderately, or live a sedentary lifestyle. Women with a family history of hip fracture and those who have had their ovaries removed, especially before age 40, are also more prone to the condition. White and Asian women are more frequently affected than African-American and Hispanic women.

Certain medical conditions that increase bone breakdown, such as kidney disease, Cushing's syndrome, and an overactive thyroid or parathyroid, can also lead to osteoporosis. Glucocorticoids, also known as steroids, also increase bone loss. Anti-seizure drugs and prolonged immobility due to paralysis or illness can also cause bone loss.

Symptoms

Your doctor may start by measuring your height to see if you’ve gotten shorter. The bones of the spine are often the first ones affected by the condition, which can change how tall you are.

What you can do

Once your bones are weakened, it is difficult to rebuild bone. Try to make lifestyle changes to prevent weakening in the first place.

  • Exercise regularly – Moderate-intensity aerobic activity and balance and muscle-strengthening activities
  • Eat more foods rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Quit smoking

Preventive service at no cost

Women 65 years and older

The USPSTF recommends screening for osteoporosis with bone measurement testing to prevent osteoporotic fractures in women 65 years and older.

Postmenopausal women younger than 65 years at increased risk of osteoporosis

The USPSTF recommends screening for osteoporosis with bone measurement testing to prevent osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women younger than 65 years who are at increased risk of osteoporosis, as determined by a formal clinical risk assessment tool.

Women age 45 and older at increased risk

Oklahoma State Mandated Coverage for Bone Density Test


Why screening is important

Osteoporosis is usually asymptomatic until a fracture occurs. In elderly people, hip fractures can be particularly dangerous because the prolonged immobility required during the healing process can lead to blood clots or pneumonia, both of which can have fatal consequences.

What the screening is

Several tools are available to assess osteoporosis risk. DXA scanning focuses on two main areas -- the hip and the spine. If you can’t test those, you can get a DXA scan on your forearm. These areas can give your doctor a good idea of whether you’re likely to get fractures in other bones in your body. It’s painless, and the amount of radiation you get from the X-rays the scan uses is low.

Treatment

Talk to your doctor about what’s most likely to help you. You may try a few different approaches at once, including medications, changing your diet and exercise habits, and other lifestyle choices.

Additional tips

Routine bone density testing during treatment may not be helpful. Talk to your doctor about if and when you need a repeat scan.

Resources