Bone Density Test
You don’t have to wait until you have an accident and break a bone to find out how dense your bones have become. Waiting until then only makes your treatment that much more difficult because healing takes longer. Instead, take steps now to learn how strong your bones are by undergoing a bone density test procedure at your Brooklyn internist’s office at Century Medical and Dental Center. At the same time, if you do show signs of weakening bones, you have time to prevent a bad break and the accompanying long-term disability it brings. Call today to schedule your test.
There’s only one test that checks whether you have osteoporosis or are in the early stages of osteopenia, a weakened bone condition. The bone density test is called a bone scan, and your doctor at Century Medical and Dental Center recommends that everyone over the age of 50 gets one, especially if you’re older and have broken a bone recently.
Women routinely undergo a bone density test procedure as they near menopause because it’s recommended by your gynecologist during your annual physical examination. Men, on the other hand, may not consider it because the condition has been referred to as a “woman’s disease.” But the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, osteoporosis in men poses a serious health concern. Your Brooklyn internist can explain the kinds of issues that put you at risk of developing osteoporosis if you’re not tested.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become brittle and weak, causing them to break easily. In fact, even a minor stressor like turning to get out of the car can cause a fracture! Both men and women are at risk of developing the disease, although it’s more prevalent in menopausal women, especially Asian and Caucasian women.
You don’t have control over some of the risk factors — such as your age, family history, sex or race. Your body frame also puts you at risk because people with smaller frames have less bone mass to begin with. Low levels of estrogen and testosterone put you at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, as do various medications, such as steroids and those used to treat cancer and gastrointestinal diseases.
Medical conditions that increase your risk include:
- Celiac disease
- Liver and kidney disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple myeloma
Lifestyle choices also increase the odds that you may develop the bone disease. These include:
- Low calcium intake
- Having gastric-bypass surgery
- Being sedentary
- Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol — more than two drinks per day
Why Take a Bone Density Test
You’re more likely to break a hip or vertebra if you have osteoporosis. Once you’ve undergone the bone density test procedure, you can take proactive steps to reduce your risks of breaking a bone. You may even be able to reverse the condition with exercise, increased calcium intake and medication. Regular bone scans help your doctor:
- Keep tabs on your bone density over time
- Predict whether you’re at risk of breaking a bone
- Develop a treatment plan to reverse the bone disease
Since Century Medical and Dental Center is a multi-disciplinary practice, you have access to a wealth of experience to implement your bone strengthening plan. Physical therapists can help you develop an exercise plan to lose weight. Your internist can treat underlying conditions contributing to the bone disease, such as kidney and thyroid disorders. A gastroenterologist can help you get digestion conditions under control.
The Bone Density Test Procedure
A bone scan is completely painless and non-invasive. In fact, you keep your clothes on during the test. After you lay down on a special table, a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) machine passes over your body, primarily your hips and spine. It takes an image, very much like a regular x-ray. Standard x-rays, though, can’t reach inside your bones like a DXA machine can. X-rays can only reveal late-stage osteoporosis.
The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes, and you’re exposed to very little radiation. In fact, you undergo close to 15 times as much radiation on a flight between Los Angeles and Boston. Once you have your first bone scan, your doctor uses the results as a baseline to compare future bone density tests for deterioration or improvement. Most insurance companies cover bone density screening tests every five years; every one to two years if you have osteoporosis or take a new medication for the disease.
Reduce Your Risk
There are no risks or side effects associated with the bone density test. But the risks of breaking a hip bone or one of the smaller bones in your wrist, suffering from a broken back or falling and breaking your leg are greatly reduced when you take measures to improve your bone density.
Bones in children and young adults produce mass faster than it’s removed. But once you reach your 30s, bone production slows so that it doesn’t reproduce as fast as you lose it. And while healthy men in their 50s don’t lose bone mass as quickly as women, by age 65, everyone loses it at the same rate.
Don’t risk your mobility and your overall health. Take your doctor’s suggestions and get a bone density test when it’s time. And if it’s past time for a physical exam that includes the bone screening test, contact Century Medical and Dental Center doctor in Downtown Brooklyn for an appointment today.