Bone Density – Osteoporosis testing
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become thinner, porous and break easily. Osteoporosis affects both men and women and occurs when the body fails to form new bone. The loss of bone mass occurs gradually over an extended period of time. In fact, most people are not even aware that they have osteoporosis until they fracture a bone. Unfortunately, this is often when the disease is first found already in an advanced state.
A bone density test or Dexa scan is used to diagnose osteoporosis. This test measures bone mineral content and the strength of the bones. A low bone density test result can indicate that you may be at risk for future bone fractures. The test can also show the rate of bone mineral loss and bone gain for those receiving treatment. Additional imaging of the lateral spine, or vertebral fracture assessment, can help predict who may be at risk for future spinal fractures.
The body needs the minerals, phosphate and calcium to build bones. If your dietary intake of these minerals is not sufficient or if the body does not absorb enough of the minerals from the diet, bone production will suffer resulting in brittle and fragile bones. These bones are then subject to fracture.
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms associated with early signs of osteoporosis. Symptoms occurring late in the disease include:
- Fractures of the vertebrae, wrists or hips
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Loss of height over time
- Stooped posture
Some additional causes of osteoporosis are:
- Loss of estrogen due to menopause
- Hormonal disorder such as Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism and hyperparathyroidism
- Diet low in calcium
- Family history of the disease
- Chronic liver disease and intestinal disorders