Osteoporosis is a disease that gradually weakens bones, causing them to become brittle and prone to break easily. In fact, daily activities or occurrences such as a slight fall or standing up from a seated position, even coughing, can cause a broken bone. However, it’s never too late or too early to do something about osteoporosis. You can take steps to manage your bone health throughout life.
Although it can occur at any age, osteoporosis is considered a disease of aging. Your genetic makeup is the major factor determining your bone health, although medications and other medical conditions can contribute to bone loss. Women are more prone to develop osteoporosis; however, men are not excluded from this condition.
Bone densitometry testing is a non-surgical method used to assess fracture risk and to estimate bone strength. A bone density test, called DEXA or dual-energy X-ray absorption, measures bone mass to determine whether you have osteopenia or osteoporosis and are at risk for a fracture. Other bone density tests are available but are less accurate. Consider the following when making your decision.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine bone mineral testing if you are 65 or older. Additionally, the task force recommends that routine screening begin at 60 years of age if you are at increased risk for broken bones (fractures) caused by osteoporosis.
Bone density testing is appropriate if you are at risk of osteoporosis and are willing to make lifestyle changes and seek treatment for osteoporosis.