Bone Density Test and Treatment
Bone Density Test and Treatment

Everything you should know about Bone Density Test and Treatment

A bone density test is done to know if you have osteoporosis. This disorder can be characterised by bones that are more delicate and are more likely to break. Earlier, osteoporosis was suspected only after a bone was broken which means your bones had been quite weak prior to breaking. With the help of a bone density test, you can improve the accuracy of calculating your risk of breaking bones. A bone density test uses X-rays to determine how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly tested are in the hip, spine and sometimes the forearm.

Who need to perform a bone density test?

  • You are a woman of 65 years or more.
  • You are a man aged 70 or older.
  • You break a bone after 50.
  • You are a woman of menopausal age having risk factors.
  • You are a postmenopausal woman under the age of 65 with risk factors.
  • You are a man in the age group of 50-69 with risk factors.

A bone density test might be needed if you have any of the following:

  • An X-ray of the spine that shows a break or bone loss in your spine.
  • Back pain with a break in your spine.
  • Height loss of ½ inch or more in a year.
  • Total height loss of 1½ inches from the actual height.

Why bone density testing is done

It is mainly done to:

  • Recognise decreases in bone density before breaking a bone.
  • Determine the risk of fractures or broken bones.
  • Confirm analysis of osteoporosis.
  • Examine osteoporosis treatment.

The higher your bone mineral content might be, the denser your bones are going to be. On the other hand, the denser your bones are, the stronger they generally are and the less likely they will break.

Bone density tests are different from bone scans that need an injection beforehand. They are used to detect cancer, fractures, infections and other bone abnormalities.

Despite your age or sex, your doctor might recommend a bone density treatment in case you have:

  • Lost height
  • People who have lost at least 1.6 inches in height may suffer from compression fractures in their spines and osteoporosis is one of the major causes for it.

  • Bone fracture
  • Fragility fractures take place when a bone becomes so weak that it breaks easier than expected. Fragility fractures may occur at times due to strong sneezes or coughs.

  • Certain drugs
  • If you use steroid medications such as prednisone or engage with bone-building processes for a long time, then this may lead to osteoporosis.

  • Received a transplant
  • People who have received a bone marrow or an organ transplant are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis. This is due to the fact that anti-rejection drugs interfere with bone-rebuilding process.

  • Drop in hormone levels
  • Other than the natural drop in hormones that occur after menopause, women’s estrogen may even drop during certain cancer treatments. Some treatments for prostate cancer decrease the level of testosterone in men and lowered sex hormone levels weaken the bones.

How you prepare yourself for bone density tests

Bone density tests are easy, quick and involve minimal pain. There is no preparation needed for them and some versions of bone density tests are performed at the local drugstore. Make sure you know about bone density test cost before undergoing it.

If you have conducted the test at the hospital or medical center, tell your doctor if you recently have had a barium exam or had contrast material injected for the CT scan.

Food and medications

Do not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before performing the bone density test.

Clothing and personal items

Wear loose and comfortable clothing and do not wear clothes with buttons, belts or zippers. Remove all metal objects from your pockets such as money clips, keys or change.

What you can expect from bone density test

Bone density tests are usually done on the bones that will probably break due to osteoporosis, including:

  • Lower spine bones or lumbar vertebrae.
  • Narrow neck of your thighbone or femur which is next to your hip joint.
  • Bones in the forearm.

If you want to perform a bone density test at the London Private GP Practice Medical Express, then you will have to lie on a padded platform while a mechanical arm passes over the body.The test usually requires nearly 10 to 30 minutes. The amount of radiation exposed is extremely low which is less than the amount emitted during the chest X-ray.