The Basics: Overview
A bone density test measures how strong your bones are. The test will tell you if you have osteoporosis (“os-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis”), or weak bones.
- If you are a woman age 65 or older, schedule a bone density test.
- If you are a woman age 50 to 64, ask your doctor if you need a bone density test.
If you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor or nurse may recommend getting a bone density test every 2 years.
Men can get osteoporosis, too. If you are a man over age 65 and you are concerned about your bone strength, talk with your doctor or nurse.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease. It means your bones are weak and more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.
There are no signs or symptoms of osteoporosis. You might not know you have the disease until you break a bone. That’s why it’s so important to get a bone density test to measure your bone strength.
What happens during a bone density test?
A bone density test is like an x-ray or scan of your body. A bone density test doesn’t hurt. It only takes about 15 minutes.
The Basics: Am I at Risk?
Am I at risk for osteoporosis?
Anyone can get osteoporosis, but it’s most common in older women. The older you are, the greater your risk for osteoporosis.
These things can also increase your risk for osteoporosis:
- Hormone changes (especially for women who have gone through menopause)
- Not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D
- Taking certain medicines
- Smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol
- Not getting enough physical activity
Visit these websites to learn more about osteoporosis and bone health:
The Basics: Treatment Options
What if I have osteoporosis?
If you have osteoporosis, you can still slow down bone loss. Finding and treating it early can keep you healthier and more active – and lower your chances of breaking a bone.
Depending on the results of your bone density test, you may need to:
- Add more calcium and vitamin D to your diet
- Exercise more to strengthen your bones
- Take medicine to stop bone loss
Learn about medicines used to treat osteoporosis.
Your doctor can tell you what steps are right for you. It doesn’t matter how old you are – it’s not too late to stop bone loss!