Osteoporosis and Bone Density Scanning

What is osteoporosis?

As we age, our bone mass declines faster than new bone can form. This can result in osteoporosis, or "porous bones," a potentially crippling disease that makes bones weak and susceptible to ractures.

It is called the "silent disease" because loss of bone mass has no symptoms and usually causes no pain until a bone fractures (breaks).

The hip, spine and wrist bones are the ones most affected by osteoporosis. Hip fracture can result in disability and loss of mobility and independence. Spinal fractures cause a loss of height, severe back pain and curving of the shoulders and spine.

Osteoporosis and women

Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue than men. At menopause, women rapidly lose more bone mass as their estrogen levels decline.

Fact: 50% of women will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

What are the potential risk factors?

  • Being female- More than 28 million persons in the United States, and 80 percent of whom are women — have or are at risk.
  • Menopausal and post-menopausal women- (including early or surgically-induced menopause) are at greatest risk because of loss of estrogen which helps maintain bone strength.
  • Age- Your risk increases as you age.
  • Culture or ethnicity- People of Caucasian or Asian descent have a higher risk for osteoporosis.
  • Bone structure- Small-boned and thin women are at greater risk.
  • Dietary factors
  • Calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies in your diet contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Inactivity
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Cigarettes and coffee- Smoking and drinking more than two cups of coffee a day.
  • Family history of osteoporosis- Several studies have strongly suggested that genetic factors help determine bone density.
  • Medications- Some medications, if taken for a long time, can contribute to bone loss.
  • Prevention and treatment- Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, it may be prevented and treated. Taking steps now to prevent osteoporosis or to slow its progress including:
  • Diet- Women over the age of 50 need at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium with at least 400 units of Vitamin D every day either from calcium-rich foods or supplements.
  • Exercise- Regular exercise is important in maintaining bone mass and increasing strength. Physical activities that help keep bones strong are weight-bearing exercises like walking and bicycling, resistance exercise such as weight training, and non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming.
  • Smoking- Women who smoke, particularly after menopause, have a significantly greater chance of bone loss.

Who should have a Bone Densitometry test?

  • All women 65 and older.
  • Post-menopausal women with one or more risk factors.
  • All post-menopausal women who have a fracture.
If you are having these symptoms, call your your doctor.

What are the risks?

There can be some risks involved with certain diagnostic procedures, and in most cases they are relatively minor. Please ask your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits so that you are fully informed about any tests you may have.

Be a partner in your health decisions

Women must be their own best advocates and take responsibility for their health. A good way to do that is by committing to routine screening exams, such as Pap smears and mammograms, as recommended by your doctor.

Click here for our brochure on osteoporosis

If you would like more information regarding Osteoperosis, Bone Density testing,
please call The Women's Health Imaging Center at (909) 793-4399.