Osteoporosis Center of Southeastern Massachusetts
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that gradually weakens bones so they become increasingly fragile and prone to breaking. These brittle bones may result in painful fractures of the spine, wrists, hips and other areas.
Who is at Risk?
There are several key factors that add to the risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Menopause – the single greatest cause of osteoporosis is menopause and the hormonal changes that occur during menopause
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Early menopause (before 45)
- Caucasian or Asian ancestry
- Thin, small build
- Use of steroids (commonly used for asthma, arthritis)
- Use of thyroid hormone (if the dose is too high)
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of calcium (or didn’t get enough calcium as a child)
- Drinking more than 2-3 caffeinated beverages per day (coffee, tea, cola)
If you have other conditions such as bulimia, anorexia, rheumatoid arthritis, some endocrine disorders or physical immobilization, you are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis.
What are the symptoms?
Osteoporosis is a silent disease and there are no early warning signs. Many women have it for years and do not find out until they break a bone. If you have previously broken a bone that might have been the result of osteoporosis, you should ask your doctor about being tested for osteoporosis. Other symptoms could be height loss of two inches or more, trouble moving around, excessive pain or even developing a curved back known as “dowager’s hump.”
Why am I having a bone density test?
You have been referred for this test either because you have a history of osteoporosis or you have some of the risk factors for developing the bone weakening disease. It is estimated that as many as 40 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis or other bone diseases, with as few as 5% seeking treatment.
What is a bone density test?
Bone density testing or bone mineral testing is a quick and painless procedure similar to a routine x-ray, which allows for early detection of the loss of bone density, which could indicate osteoporosis or other metabolic bone diseases.
How does the bone density x-ray work?
The bone mineral density machine operates with very low levels of radiation- lower than the average chest x-ray. Bone mineral density machines are more sensitive than ordinary x-rays and can diagnose bone loss at the earliest stages. Your results are compared with the bone mineral density of healthy, young adults of your sex.
How do I prepare for the bone density test?
No preparation is needed. The bone mineral density x-ray is simple, safe, non-invasive and painless. The test lasts about 2 minutes per each body part x-rayed. You should wear loose, comfortable clothing. Please do not wear denim. You may wear jewelry if it does not cover the lower spine or hip area. Please bring a signed order from your physician on the day of your test as well as a list of any medications that you are taking.
What should I expect during the test?
The bone density z-ray is similar to a regular x-ray; you need to lie still for 5-10 minutes. The technologist will be with you at all times, and the test is pain free.
How I learn the result of my test?
Your test results will be forwarded to your primary care physician or the physician who referred you for this test. He or she will discuss the results of the test with you.
Will my insurance cover my bone density test?
Most insurance companies do cover the cost of the test. Please call your insurance company for specifics regarding your coverage.
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