Bone Loss / Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak to the point of breaking. This weakening may be due to aging or caused by other factors that combine with age. Symptoms of osteoporosis do not occur until a significant amount of bone strength is lost. The most visible symptoms may include loss of height along with a curvature of the upper back. Osteoporosis also can result in crippling and painful fractures, occurring most often in the hip, back or wrist.
How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease.” There are rarely signs until a lot of bone has been lost. A medical test that measures the amount of bone is the best way to detect osteoporosis. Bone densitometry is one such test. The bone densitometer uses small amounts of X-rays to measure the amount of bone mineral. The amount of bone mineral relates directly to bone strength.
Important risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Advanced age
- History of bone fracture
- A small thin frame
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Removal of the ovaries
- Early menopause
- A low-calcium diet
- Lack of exercise
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Alcohol and tobacco use
How does the densitometer work?
The bone densitometer uses small amounts of X-rays to produce images of the spine, hip, or even the whole body. The X-ray is composed of two energy levels, which are absorbed differently by the bones in the body. A computer analyzes the variances in absorption levels to calculate how much bone mineral is present. The technical term for this method is “dual X-ray absorp-tiometry,” or DXA. The spine and hip are measured because that is where osteo-porotic fractures occur most.
What can I expect during my bone densitometry test?
Bone mineral density testing determines a person’s bone health status and potential fracture risk. The bone densitometer is like a large examination table. It is padded and comfortable. Your name, age, height, weight and race will be entered into the computer before your test. This information is used to compare your results to a normal reference group.
- No calcium pills on the day of scan
- Avoid clothing with zippers, metal or plastic buttons, and belts
- Please wait one week after any contrast studies (i.e.- upper/lower GI’s, Cat Scans, IVP’s, etc.) to have your DXA scan.
Appointments made easy:
- Out patient services
- Simple scheduling:
- Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
- For scheduling call 909.865.9580.
- Most exams require pre-authorization at the time of scheduling. Please check with your insurance coverage to be certain that it has been obtained.
In the US, approximately 13-17 million people have low bone mass. Another 8 million women and 2 million men have osteoporosis, which developed from low bone mass. Many people assume they are not at risk for bone loss since there are no evident signs of bone damage, and many do not know they have osteoporosis until they fracture (break) a bone. Osteoporosis is a disease in which your bones lose minerals like calcium. They become very weak, fragile and can break easily.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Being female and postmenopausal or over age 50
- Women of Asian or Caucasian descent
- Being thin or having a small frame
- Family history
- Use of certain medications such as oral corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
- Lack of exercise
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Having certain health conditions such as low bone mass, anorexia, or estrogen deficiency
Currently, the standard method for detecting bone loss is through radiological therapy, which is offered at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. This technology measures bone mass and density at a set point and over the course of time.
There are prevention and treatment options available. Discuss this with your doctor to determine what the best course of action is for you.
For more information on Bone Loss detection or to find a doctor, please call us at 909.865.9858.