What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, or thinning bones, can result in painful fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones or menopause, smoking, and some medications. Prevention and treatment include calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and osteoporosis medications.

Causes of Osteoporosis

  • Diabetes Mellitus and Osteoporosis
  • Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Celiac Disease
  • Asthma
  • Multiple Sclerosis

What is Bone Mineral Density Test?

A bone mineral density test, sometimes just called a bone density test, detects whether you have osteoporosis, a word that comes from Greek and literally means “porous bone.”

When you have this condition, your bones get weak and thin. They become more likely to break. It’s a silent condition, which means you don’t feel any symptoms. Without a bone density test, you may not realize you have osteoporosis until you break a bone.

How Is It Done?

Unlike a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerised tomography (CT) scan, a DEXA scan doesn’t involve being enclosed inside a tunnel or a ring, so you won’t feel claustrophobic. Instead, you lie on your back on a flat, open X-ray table. You’ll need to keep very still during the scan so the images aren’t blurred.
The scan will usually be carried out by a radiographer (a specialist in taking X-ray images).
During the scan, a large scanning arm will be passed over your body to measure bone density in the centre of the skeleton. As the scanning arm is moved slowly over your body, a narrow beam of low-dose X-rays will be passed through the part of your body being examined.
This will usually be your hip and lower spine – to check for osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones). However, as bone density varies in different parts of the skeleton, more than one part of your body may be scanned. The forearm may be scanned for certain conditions, such as hyperparathyroidism, or if scans aren’t possible in the hip or spine.
Some of the X-rays that are passed through your body will be absorbed by tissue, such as fat and bone. An X-ray detector inside the scanning arm measures the amount of X-rays that have passed through your body. This information will be used to produce an image of the scanned area.

A DEXA scan usually takes around five minutes, although it depends what part of the body is being scanned. You’ll be able to go home after you’ve had it done.

Who Should Go For a BMD Test?

  • You’re a woman 65 or older
  • You’re a postmenopausal woman 50 or older
  • You’re a woman at the age of menopause and have a high chance for breaking bones
  • You’re a woman who has already been through menopause, younger than 65, and have other things that give you a higher chance of osteoporosis
  • You’re a man 50 or older with other risk factors
  • You break a bone after 50
  • You’ve lost more than 1.5 inches of your adult height
  • Your posture has gotten more hunched
  • You’re having back pain without any cause
  • Your periods have stopped or are irregular although you’re neither pregnant nor menopausal
  • You’ve gotten an organ transplant
  • You’ve had a drop in hormone levels
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