Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weakened and more likely to break. Unfortunately, osteoporosis is also very common. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are approximately 10 million Americans that already have the disease, and about 34 million more that are currently at risk. They project that about half of all women age fifty plus (and one in four men) will break a bone that has been weakened due to osteoporosis.
This is an incredibly serious health challenge, largely because most people that develop osteoporosis do not have any symptoms or feel sick. Therefore, many people suffer from the disease without realizing it, and some end up finding out about their osteoporosis when they actually suffer a bone break. Others may notice that they are losing height or that their upper back is curving, and by then the disease may be at a more advanced stage.
The good news is that there is a reliable and simple test that can help with early detection of osteoporosis. A bone mineral density test measures the “strength” of your skeleton by detecting the levels of calcium and other minerals present in your bones. The most common and accurate method of testing is done with a DEXA scan machine (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), which uses low dose X-ray technology to detect the density of bone and to diagnose osteoporosis. This test is a pain free procedure that takes only a few minutes.