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Osteoporosis & 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 fractures. Osteoporosis is called the "silent disease" because loss of bone mass has no symptoms or pain until a bone fractures (breaks).

The hip, spine and wrist bones are 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, their bone loss speeds up as 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 people in the U.S. have osteoporosis or are at risk for it, and 80% of those are women
  • Menopause - women entering menopause (including early or surgically-induced menopause) are at greatest risk because of the loss of estrogen, an important ingredient for bone strength
  • Age - risk increases as you grow older
  • Culture or ethnicity - those of Caucasian or Asian descent have a higher risk
  • Bone structure - thin women with small bones are at greater risk
  • Dietary factors - not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D; women over 50 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 units of Vitamin D every day
  • Inactivity and lack of exercise - not getting enough exercise to maintain bone mass and increase strength; examples include walking, bicycling, weight training and swimming
  • Cigarettes and coffee - smoking and drinking more than two cups a day
  • Family history - several studies have suggested that genetics help determine bone density
  • Medications - some medications can contribute to bone loss over a long period

Although there is currently no cure for osteoporosis, it may be prevented and treated. A bone densitometry test can prevent onset of the disease or slow its progress.

Who should have a Bone Densitometry test?

  • Women over 65
  • Post-menopausal women with one or more risk factors, or
  • Post-menopausal women who experience a fracture

If you are having these symptoms, call your doctor.

What are the risks?

There are some (usually minor) risks involved with certain diagnostic procedures. Please have your doctor weigh the risks and benefits of any test with you.

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.

If you would like more information regarding osteoporosis or bone density testing, please call the Women’s Health Imaging Center at 909.793.4399.

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