Osteoporosis Screening – When And How?

Osteoporosis ScreeningOsteoporosis screening begins with a physical examination. If you have lost height, had fractured bones, or have had a change in posture, you may be at higher risk. The doctor will also observe the way in which you walk and check your balance. The doctor will ask you questions as part of your medical history. As part of your osteoporosis screening, you will be asked about osteoporosis risk factors such as your diet, whether or not you smoke, and your exercise habits as well as whether anyone in your family has osteoporosis. If you are female you will be asked about your menstrual cycle. You will be asked about any medications that you have taken because some of them can cause osteoporosis. Laboratory tests analyzing the urine and blood may be ordered. If you have had back pain, an X-ray may be done to check for factures of the spine. Finally, a bone mineral density test may be added to the osteoporosis screening. This test can confirm the suspected diagnosis. The bone mineral density test is a quick and painless procedure.

One of the lesser known osteoporosis facts is that younger women can develop premenopausal osteoporosis. Smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, being severely underweight, lack of menstrual periods, and certain medical conditions are possible culprits. Medications like immunosuppressive drugs, anti-seizure medication, oral glucocorticosteroids and others can also lead to osteoporosis. If any of these conditions are present, osteoporosis screening may be indicated. People who have broken a bone and are over 50 should be screened. Those whose posture has become hunched or who experience back pain suddenly should also be checked. Women with increased risk factors should begin screening at age 60. Post menopausal osteoporosis testing should be ordered for all women beginning at age 65. The earlier osteoporosis is detected, the easier it is to treat.

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