Osteoporosis affects about 25 million people in the United States. The disease slowly decreases your bone mass, making bones easily susceptible to fractures and breaks. Yet you wouldn’t know it. As a matter of fact, you could lose one-third of your bone density before a diagnosis is even made. This is why osteoporosis is commonly referred to as “the silent disease.” Of the 25 million who suffer, 80 percent are women.
The silent disease, as it is aptly nicknamed, is preventable and treatable through education, healthy lifestyle changes, exercise, and medical therapies. Prevention and early diagnosis are key, because once you’ve had a fracture due to osteoporosis, your risk of future fractures dramatically increases.
In order to prevent the first fracture, know your risk factors.
- Family history of osteoporosis
- History of broken bones
- Prolonged use of certain medications, such as steroids
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Not consuming enough calcium
- Post-menopause or early menopause
- Having a thin or small frame
- Lack of exercise
- Prolonged bed rest
- Anorexia nervosa
- Very irregular menses during youth
If any of these factors apply to you, you could be at risk for osteoporosis, so scheduling a bone density screening is important. The more proactive you are, the less likely you will be to have a fracture or break because of osteoporosis.
People who should be tested include:
- Women over the age of 65
- Postmenopausal women under 65 with one or more risk factors for osteoporosis
- Any older man or woman who suffers a fracture
- Women with medical conditions associated with osteoporosis (check with your primary care doctor)
Here are some ways to prevent or lower your risks of osteoporosis:
- Increase your vitamin D and calcium intake (calcium may reduce fractures by 50 percent).
- Stop smoking.
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation.
- Exercise regularly.
Bone density tests are fast and easy! These x-rays do the following things:
- Determine whether you have osteoporosis or are at risk for osteoporosis
- Measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into the tested section of bone
- Measure bone strength
- Predict if your bones are at risk for fracture
- Monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more
They are simple, painless and non-invasive measurements of the bones in your hip, wrist, and spine (the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis). Other tests may measure bone density in your middle finger, heel, shin bone, or whole body.
The procedure takes about 15 minutes. You will lie on a table as the machine scans your bone density. A very small amount of radiation will be used, and you typically can remain clothed during the procedure. There are no food or medication restrictions; however you cannot take any vitamins or mineral supplements before the exam. You are also prohibited from taking the exam if you have had any other scans involving barium or radioisotopes within a month of the test.
If you fall under the list of risk factors or are over the age of 65, talk to your primary care physician and schedule your appointment with us today. Our Orthopedic and Spine Institute offers advanced solutions for all of your orthopedic needs. If you have medical questions or need a physician referral, call Consult-A-Nurse® at 1-888-256-7692. Serving Aventura and the Miami-Dade community, we’re here to keep you healthy.