Osteoporosis is a silent disease that is preventable and can progress for many years without detection. Sometimes one doesn’t know they have a fracture until they start having pain. Our bone mass peaks between the ages of 18 and 35. After our bone mass peaks, we can lose more bone than formed and bone can start to become thinner. The good news is the more bone mass we have, the less likely the possibility of breaking a bone or getting osteoporosis later in life. Remember osteoporosis can affect both men and women, but mostly women.
Let’s look at risk factors for developing osteoporosis. They can include: thinness or a small frame, family history of osteoporosis, being postmenopausal or having early menopause, abnormal absence of menstrual periods, prolonged use of certain drugs like prednisone, low calcium intake, smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
How do I know when to get a bone density test?
A bone density test may be recommended by your doctor when you start losing height, fracture a bone, take certain drugs, receive a transplant or have a drop in your hormone levels. The bone density testing can be done by a central DXA machine. You probably have heard it called “DEXA” ( Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry). It is the most accurate test to estimate the density of your bones and predict your chances of breaking a bone. Quantitative ultrasound of the heel and other tests are available to help predict a fracture, estimate how fast you are losing or making bone.
Check your insurance policy to see if it is covered. Medicare part B covers the entire cost of bone mass screening at age 65 and older if criteria is met. If you are diagnosed with Osteoporosis your doctor can order a bone density test to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments according to your T-score every 2 years.
Prevention or progression of the disease can be accomplished through a healthy lifestyle and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D as well as walking, swimming, low stress yoga and tai chi.