A metabolic bone disorder in which bone tissue breaks down, making bone become increasingly fragile, leading to an increasing risk of fracture is known as Osteoporosis. This affliction (and osteopenia, which refers to low bone density in general), can affect people of all ages. It has been observed that bone loss in adolescence and early adulthood can be a result of a failure to attain peak bone mineral density. Also, accelerated bone loss may be particularly noted around menopause and in later years. There are many factors, including one's diet and an absence of proper exercise, that significantly contribute to bone loss during these periods. Bone loss can also occur as a result of numerous underlying conditions, many of which are often not readily apparent during the course of a doctor visit.
Even though bones may seem like hard and lifeless structures, they are in fact living tissue. In our bodies bone is constantly broken down and remodeled (through a process called bony resorption), while new bone is at the same time deposited. Low bone mass (osteopenia) and osteoporosis can occur when bone is broken down faster than it is deposited. The bony building blocks of the spine (vertebrae) can begin to collapse as osteoporosis progresses over a period of time. These collapsed vertebrae may be felt as severe back pain or cause a loss of height or spinal deformities.
Your doctor may start by measuring your height to see if you have gotten shorter if he thinks you might have osteoporosis. In many cases the bones of the spine are often the first ones affected by the condition, as it can change how tall you are. If testing proves that you have osteoporosis, you have many options for treating the condition and strengthening your bones to prevent fractures. You should talk to your doctor about what is most likely to help you.
To determine your condition a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test is used to detect bone loss in its early stages (osteopenia), diagnose osteoporosis, determine risk for future fracture, and monitor bone changes associated with treatment. Be aware that there are a number of reliable tests for measuring mineral density. The BMD test you take will be a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) test. This test is always safe, non-invasive and painless and is the most reliable diagnostic tool used to check bone density throughout your body.
Your healthcare provider may order laboratory and other tests if you are diagnosed with
Together all these tests can help your healthcare provider find out if you have another medical condition causing bone loss. Your doctor's medical evaluation to determine the presence of osteoporosis and estimate your risk of breaking a bone may involve one or more types of diagnostic testing. Some other tests that may be used to evaluate bone health but are not used to diagnose osteoporosis include bone scans, x-rays, biochemical marker tests, and vertebral fracture assessments (VFAs).