Osteoporosis / Bone Density Facts

Interesting facts:

The following facts about osteoporosis may surprise you:

  • About half of all women and up to one in four men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
  • People with osteoporosis cannot feel their bones getting weaker, and many people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. For this reason, people call osteoporosis a silent disease.
  • Certain diseases that are more common in African American women, such as sickle cell anemia and lupus, can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Broken hips among Latinas in the U.S. appear to be on the rise.
  • More than half of all Asian American women age 50 and older are estimated to have low bone density, putting them at risk for osteoporosis and broken bones.
  • Between the ages of 20 and 80, Caucasian women lose about one-third of their hip bone density.
  • A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
  • African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos/Hispanics and Native Americans are more likely to be lactose intolerant than Caucasians. People who are lactose intolerant have trouble drinking milk or eating certain dairy foods which contain calcium.

Who needs a bone density test?

Anyone who is at risk for osteoporosis. We can determine the risk of osteoporosis by accessing the most common risk factors for a particular patient.

What are the risk factors?

  • Post menopausal women
  • Family history of osteoporosis or osteoporotic fracture
  • Smoking
  • Early menopause (before age 45)
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Thin or small build
  • Inadequate calcium intake or lactose intolerant
  • Chronic use of certain medications
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Eating disorders
  • Loss of height
  • Digestive problems
  • Certain race/ethnecities such as Caucasian, Asian or Hispanic/Latino although African Americans are also at risk

You may have none of these risk factors and still have osteoporosis, or you may have several risk factors and not have osteoporosis. A bone density test tells if osteoporosis is present. If you think you are at risk for osteoporosis, ask your doctor if a bone density test would be of value to you.

What is a bone density test?

A bone density test will measure the amount of mineral content in the area measured and report it as bone mineral density (BMD). Your BMD will be compared to a young adult norm and an age match norm of your sex, race and size. The technical definition of osteoporosis is based on the comparison of your BMD to the appropriate young adult norms. This information will help your doctor determine if you need to take steps to protect your bone health. Bone density testing is simple, safe, non-invasive and painless.

How much does a bone density test cost?

We charge $210.00 which is a covered benefit for most insurances including Medicare. Please check with your individual policy for coverage. Payment arrangements must be made prior to the test if the test is not a covered benefit and you have financial hardship.

How long does a bone density test take?

About 10 to 15 minutes, but with paperwork and the positioning allow at least 30 minutes.

How much radiation will I be exposed to?

This test exposes you to very little radiation, in most cases less than a standard chest x-ray.

Are there any special instructions or injections involved in a bone density test?

No. It is a very simple and easy test. There is no medication of any kind needed nor any kind of fasting required.

You will lie on an x-ray table and the machine will slowly scan over your body. The computer will generate a color printout for the physician to interpret. We will send a completed report to your family doctor as well as to the patient.

What is the treatment of osteoporosis?

The treatment varies with the severity of the osteoporosis, medications for other problems, sex, general health and other factors of the individual. Usually it includes exercise as well as calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Women sometimes receive replacement hormone therapy. There are currently nine medications for osteoporosis but research is being done to provide more treatment options. Your doctor will determine which is best for you. Depending on your results, your family doctor will determine if any further treatment is needed.

For more information about osteoporosis visit the following links: