Bone Densitometry (Osteoporosis Screening Test) is a very easy, quick and totally painless test.  The patient simply sits in a chair, removes their shoe (can even leave sock or stocking on), places their heel in a scanning machine, and relaxes for about one minute.  The results are available within a few minutes and your physician will be able to tell you if you have or are at risk for osteoporosis.  If so, your doctor can prescribe medicines and life style advice to improve your bone structure or lessen the chances of developing this condition.

This is an important test for all women who have gone thru menopause or who are over the age of 50 and especially those whose mothers have osteoporosis. To schedule an appointment for this test, call the CPC office where you normally see your doctor.  If you are not an established CPC patient, call any of our three convenient offices to schedule an appointment.

It’s never too early to take steps to preserve your bone health, but it becomes even more important as you grow older to do all you can to strengthen your bones because bone density decreases with age.

The most important things you can so to ensure bone health are to make sure you are getting enough calcium, either through nutrition or supplements; getting adequate weight~bearing exercise; monitoring your bone health by means of bone densitrometry; and if necessary, treating osteoporosis. The following provides more details about the controllable factors that affect your bone health:

Calcium: Your body’s need for calcium varies during your lifetime. Higher intake of calcium is needed during childhood when the skeleton is growing rapidly, and during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is also essential for postmenopausal women and older men who need additional calcium because of decreased efficiency in absorbing calcium and other nutrients.

Many people get less than one half the calcium they require to build and maintain healthy bones. Good nutritional sources of calcium include dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream; dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collard greens, bok choy, and spinach; tofu; almonds, and foods fortified with calcium, such as orange juice, cereals, and breads. Taking two to three Tums tablets a day is another good source of calcium. Vitamin D is essential for the intestinal absorption of calcium. Most people get enough naturally in their diet and through exposure to sunlight, but some groups, such as elderly and household bound individuals, require supplemental vitamin D to achieve the recommended 400 to 800 International Units (IU) daily.

Exercise: Bone responds to exercise as readily as muscle. The best type of exercise for building and maintaining bone strength is weight~bearing exercise such as walking, tennis, stair~climbing, and weight lifting, which requires your body to work against gravity.

Bone Mass MonitoringBone densitrometry, also known as a bone mineral density (BMD) test, is easy and painless method of evaluating bone mass. CPC uses equipment that measures the density of the heel bone and provides a printout showing how your bone density compares with normal bone mass. This test is used to screen for bone density before a fracture occurs.

Medications: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved estrogen, raloxifene (Evista), and alendronate (Fosomax) for the prevention of osteoporosis by slowing bone loss and/or building bone mass, thereby reducing the risk of fracture it is important to discuss the benefits and risks with your family physician prior to beginning therapy.

Behaviors to Avoid: Factors include smoking, regular consumption of alcohol, and long-term use of some medications.

Women who smoke often go through menopause earlier, absorb less calcium from their diets, and may require higher doses of estrogen therapy.

Consumption of as little as 2 to 3 ounces of alcohol a day – the equivalent of 2 or 3 glasses of beer or wine – is damaging to the skeleton. Heavy drinkers are even more prone to bone loss and fractures because of poor nutrition and an increased risk of falls.

The long~term use of some medications, such as lupus and other diseases of the lungs, kidneys, and liver, can lead to decreased bone density. It is important to discuss the use of these drugs with your family physician and not discontinue or alter your medication dose on your own.

Source: Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases – National Resource Center, Washington D.C.

For more information on Osteoporosis: National Osteoporosis Foundation Calcium Information Resource