Osteoporosis is a disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density. The decrease in bone mass leads to an increase in the risk of fractures. Even though osteoporosis affects different ages and ethnicity, there are a few factors that make people more susceptible to developing the bone disease.
At Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center, in Dallas TX, we use DEXA (Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry) to test for bone mineral destiny & bone deterioration
Uncontrollable Risk Factors of Developing Osteoporosis
- Sex - 80 percent of osteoporosis cases affect women.
- Age - As we get older, our bones naturally become weaker and lose density.
- Being too thin - Having a small, thin frame increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. However, people with heavier frames are still able to develop the disease.
- Menopause - Menopause decreases the amount of estrogen your body is producing. Estrogen is the female sex hormone that protects bones.
- Family history of osteoporosis - Much like a lot of diseases, there is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis if either of your parents has it.
Lifestyle Factors that Affect Osteoporosis
- Inactivity - Exercise strengthens bones as much as it strengthens muscle. Strong bones are less likely to fracture or lose density over time.
- Smoking - Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis by interfering with the function of bone cells and interfering with proper calcium absorption.
- Nutrition - Calcium improves bone strength and Vitamin D helps bones absorb calcium. To lower your chance of developing osteoporosis, make sure you reach your daily calcium and vitamin D goals.
- Excessive alcohol consumption - Consuming large amounts of alcohol is bad for a variety of reasons, one of which being the impact it has on your calcium supply. Limit yourself to less than two drinks per day.
DEXA Screening for Osteoporosis
Bone density is measured using a process called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or what’s commonly known as a DEXA scan. This procedure measures the density of bones in areas of the body that are prone to breaks and fractures, such as the spine, hips and forearms.
DEXA scans do not require any preparation. The patient will lie on an examination table while an x-ray scans different areas of the body. The process is painless and only takes about ten minutes to complete.
Understanding DEXA Results
In the majority of cases, the patient’s bone density will be compared to that of an average healthy young adult. The results of this comparison is called a T-score. This will help the doctor determine if the bones are normal (T-score between +1 and -1) , have lower than average mass (T-score between -1.1 and -2.4,) or Osteoporosis (T-score of -2.5 or less.)
How Often Should Scans be Performed?
Because of the exposure to radiation, DEXA scans should be completed a maximum of once every two years. Even with high-risk patients receiving treatment, doctors will monitor bone health in other ways.
Osteoporosis Treatment Options
The main goal of treatment will be to prevent fractures and breaks. In addition to recommending a proper diet rich in calcium, a doctor may prescribe medication. The following is not a list of all medication options, but simply the most commonly used:
- Bisphosphonates. This type of medication slows cell activity that is responsible for bone loss. Bisphosphonates are intended to maintain or even increase bone density.
- Parathyroid Hormone. This option is for postmenopausal women who are at high risk for fracture.
- Estrogen Agonists/Antagonists. Typically used to treat postmenopausal women, these medications are not estrogen, but they have estrogen-like effects on the body.
- Calcitonin. Meant for women who are at least five years into menopause, calcitonin helps to regulate calcium and bone metabolism.
Osteoporosis is a condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. A broken bone can result in hospitalization and even surgery.
If you have concerns over your bone density and would like to schedule an appointment, please call Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center at (214) 345-6905.