What Is Bone Mineral Density?

Osteoporosis, if undiscovered, can quickly take away your lifestyle. Loss of bone density and the resulting risk of bone fractures (breaks) can be difficult to predict and prevent. You may not realize you have osteoporosis until you start breaking bones far too easily. Within the first six years following menopause, a woman will lose up to 20% of her total bone mass. Men are also at risk, especially if they experience low testosterone, smoke, or are sedentary.

Symptoms of osteoporosis include a gradual decline in your height, back pain, and noticeable changes in posture. However, many are unaware of this condition until their bones snap or they fracture a hip after a fall. Risk factors for bone loss are age, hormonal imbalances, family history, body frame size, an inactive lifestyle, diets low in calcium and vitamin D, alcohol, and the use of many prescription medications. Smoking greatly increases bone mineral loss and lost bone strength in both men and women.

Planning for and preparing against osteoporosis as you age center around diagnostic exams and early treatment. Your doctor will suggest bone densitometry tests to determine the density of your bones. This procedure, also referred to as bone density testing or bone mineral density testing, is the most frequently used and most accurate diagnostic screen for osteoporosis and low bone mass.

Bone Mineral Density Tests – Simple and Painless

When measuring bone density or bone mineral density, your doctor will use x-rays to measure the mineral density of a sample segment of bone. Bone mineral density (BMD) testing has become one of the best methods of diagnosing osteoporosis and determining your risk for fractures. The purpose of the test is to see if there is enough calcium and other minerals in a segment of bone to ensure that your bones and skeleton are strong and healthy.

Most often, an x-ray is taken of the bones that are most likely to become thin and break easily. Starting with the upper section of your femur, the bones of the forearm and wrist and the lumbar vertebrae of your lower spine, all are the most common sections x-rayed.

The BMD test is fast and easy, there is no preparation and the test is painless. Many local pharmacies and health fair screenings now offer onsite bone density testing. There is no reason not to have your bone density checked.

The results of your bone mineral density test will be given to you in the form of a T-score. If your T-score is above -1 then your bones are normal, healthy, and strong. If your score is between -1 and -2.5, your bones are beginning to thin and you are at increased risk of osteoporosis. If your score lower than -2.5 it suggests that you have osteoporosis and your should take measures to correct the deficiencies.

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