Bone density and osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes a decrease in the amount of bone in the skeleton, and deteriorates the bone structure.
These changes weaken the skeleton, leading to an increased chance of breaking or fracturing a bone.
The most common fractures are bones in the spine, hip and wrist. Other bones affected are the shoulder, ribs and pelvis.
Osteoporosis is commonly found in older people, particularly in women after menopause.
Bone density testing
Bone density scans measure the density of your bones in certain places—usually at the hip and spine. They help to estimate the density of your bones and your chance of breaking a bone.
A central DXA machine (using x-ray technology) is used to diagnose osteoporosis rather than the previously used ultrasound tests of the heel, which are not as accurate.
Prevention and treatment
It is never too late to improve your bone health, and help to prevent or slow osteoporosis.
- Eat calcium-rich foods
- Maintain vitamin D levels to help absorb calcium—ask your doctor to check if you are concerned
- Do regular weight-bearing and strength exercise
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
There are also different types of medication that can help reduce the risk of broken bones. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.