If you have someone in your family who regularly goes to the doctor, you may have heard them talk about bone density tests. As an elderly man or woman, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of your family doctor to determine if you are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones which is a result of an incredibly low amount of bone density mass. As your bones become more brittle, you are at a greater risk for incurring major injuries from minor accidents. With that being said, there are an ample amount of tests that can be used to determine whether you are developing (or have developed) osteoporosis, before you break a bone.
The Diagnosis Process
When you visit your doctor to determine whether you have developed osteoporosis, they will put you through a series of tests but the first step is to understand the diagnosis process.
First your doctor will explain what bone mineral density is so that you can sufficiently understand what osteoporosis can do to your bones. Approximately 80% of bone density will be determined by what you have inherited from your parents and the other 20% is based on lifestyle choices. With the use of a BMD (Bone Mineral Density) test, they will be able to determine how dense your bones are. For patients who have low bone density, they could have osteoporosis.
The second thing that your doctor will consider is your age. Generally patients are 50 years of age or older before they start showing significant signs of osteoporosis, though the human body reaches the peak age for bone density at 30 years of age.
As previously mentioned, there are a series of tests that your doctor can use to help determine whether you have osteoporosis or not.
1. DEXA Scan (Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry)
This is the most common test used by doctor around the world. Also referred to as DXA or DEXA, this method of testing will measure your total bone density, hip density, or spine density to determine if you are at risk for fractures.
2. Other Bone Mineral Density Tests
Aside from DEXA, there are other tests that your doctor can use to check the density of your bones. These tests generally require the use of ultrasounds or QCT (Quantitative Computed Tomography) tools. Depending on the testing method used, your scores for bone density may vary.
3. Blood Tests
When you begin the screening process your doctor will order a blood and urine test to determine the metabolism of your bones. This helps to determine how the osteoporosis is progressing.
4. Bone Densitometry
Much like an X-Ray, this method is quick and effective for measuring how dense your bones are.
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