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Osteoporosis Screening - Bone Density Testing

As a woman, you’re at risk for osteoporosis as you age. Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disease that can cause bones to become weak and fragile. Low bone mass, also called osteopenia, is a condition that can lead to osteoporosis and also gradually makes bones more fragile and more susceptible to fractures. The spine, hip and wrist are areas most vulnerable to effects of osteoporosis. While osteoporosis can affect women and men, it is much more common in women after menopause.

Millions of women are affected by these disorders, and the best way to protect yourself is maintaining a healthy lifestyle for prevention and early detection if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. The DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is considered the best screening method to detect low bone mass. It is a non-invasive and painless test. We encourage this test in our patients who we consider at risk for osteoporosis.

About Osteoporosis

About 13 to 18% of U.S. women age 50 years or older have osteoporosis, while another 37 to 50% have low bone mass (osteopenia). Although hip fracture has been emphasized as a source of disability and even death, spine fractures can account for problems with pain, changes in appearance and loss of independence. It can even have an effect on cardiovascular, lung and digestive function.

The good news is major complications from osteoporosis are largely preventable. Appropriate screening and pharmacologic interventions are now available to treat osteoporosis. Initial screening, which is available in our office, often provides information that leads to treatment. The most common method for screening is the DEXA dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, the technical standard for measuring bone mineral density. It is relatively inexpensive and has a very modest radiation exposure.

Osteoporosis screening is recommended for all postmenopausal women ages 65 or older. It is also recommended in postmenopausal women younger than 65 who have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women include:

  • History of previous fracture
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Caucasian race
  • Dementia
  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Low weight and body mass index
  • Estrogen deficiency
  • Long-term low calcium intake
  • Alcoholism
  • Chronic steroid use
  • Use of certain antidepressants
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Hyperthyroidism

Women First is pleased to be able to offer osteoporosis screening and counseling regarding therapies for osteoporosis in our office.

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