A bone density test is an X-ray of your spine and hip in order to evaluate the health and strength of your bones. Weak, brittle bone that shows up on the test is called osteoporosis, and if you are getting brittle, but not there yet, then you are osteopenic.
Many women start a bone density test in the menopausal age range however it’s important to note that the quality and strength of your bones start to diminish in your early thirties.
When is it most definitely important to get a bone density test?
1) If you are 50 years old. Most insurance will pay for a bone density at this age but it’s also important because you want to catch bone change as soon as possible and then do something about it.
2) If you are taking proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for your stomach. Those medications block calcium absorption and get in the way of the bone cells. As a result, long term use of PPIs can lead to increased fracture risk and osteoporosis.
3) If you are taking steroidal medication. While steroids are important when used during certain health conditions such as extreme allergic reactions, or autoimmune flares, long-term use can lead to weak bones.
4) If you don’t have menstrual cycles. The cycling of hormones, specifically estrogen, really helps bone building and remodeling. If you don’t cycle (at any age) for long periods of time, your risk for osteoporosis increases.
5) If you have lost height, are breaking bones, or prone to fractures easily. This could mean your bones are not as strong and healthy as they need to be and warrant a bone density test.
If any of these situations apply to you, talk with your health care provider about ordering a bone density test so that you can learn about your bone health and treat or prevent as needed.
1. Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors and Risk of Hip Fracture in Relation to Dietary and Lifestyle Factors. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.
2. The Female Athlete Triad. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.
Reviewed February 16, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith