What Is a Bone Density Test and Do I Need One?

What Is a Bone Density Test and Do I Need One?

Osteoporosis is a silent condition. You may not even know you have it until you break a bone. One of the best ways to avoid this is to undergo a bone density test. 

A bone density test (BDT), sometimes called a bone scan or bone densitometry, helps determine your risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. Getting the test can identify whether your bones are losing mass or vital minerals, which is what leads to osteoporosis or weakened bones that break easily.

Your overall wellness is our passion at Ovation Wellness in Madison, Mississippi, and our team encourages you to take steps to protect your body and be aware of potential problems. A bone density test is one of those tools.

One of the most commonly used tests to examine the density or strength of your bones is a central dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry — also known as DXA or DEXA. 

Do you need a bone density test?

Women tend to develop osteoporosis more often than men, but men can also be at risk for decreased bone mass. The risk for losing bone density can increase if you have bones that are small or if someone in your family has had osteoporosis. 

Your provider may recommend you get a BDT if you:

Certain medications like cancer drugs, steroids, or those you take after having an organ transplant can also weaken your bones.

How it works

A BDT is a simple and noninvasive procedure, and it’s very similar to getting any other type of X-ray done. It’s a quick outpatient treatment, only taking up to 30 minutes. There is a very low amount of radiation emitted, even less than a chest X-ray.

What your bone density test results mean

The results of your BDT are compared to the bones of a typically healthy young person to determine how much bone loss, if any, you have. These results are your T-score, a calculation that shows how close or far away you are from having optimal bone mass. 

A T-score between zero and -1 is considered normal and healthy. A T-score between -1 and -2.5 is classified as osteopenia, which means your bone density is below normal and you’re at risk for osteoporosis. A T-score of -2.5 and below means you already have osteoporosis and are at risk for fractures.

The results of your test also include a Z-score, which shows how much your bone density deviates from what’s considered normal for your age, gender, weight, and ethnicity. 

What’s next after a bone density test?

As long as your T-score is in the normal and healthy range, plan to keep eating a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis. Exercises that keep your bones strong like interval training and weighted resistance training are highly recommended. It’s also beneficial to receive additional BDTs every two years.

If your test results show that you have osteopenia, you should have a more regimented exercise routine and add more vitamins D and K to your diet along with increased calcium. You may need a repeat BDT in two years or less depending on your score.

If you have osteoporosis, you need to make lifestyle changes in both your exercise and diet. You will probably need calcium supplements or prescription medications to keep you from losing any more bone mass. You should have follow-up tests done every six months to a year in order to track your progress.

At Ovation Wellness, we want you to know how strong your bones are so you can plan for a healthy future. If you’d like to set up a consultation to see if a bone density test is necessary, call our office at 601-202-1340 today.

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