Osteo-K FAQ: Osteoporosis Diagnosis
More FAQ Topics
Q: How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
By a bone density scan, also called a DEXA (Dual
X-ray Absorptiometry) scan. A DEXA scan gives you a T-score. A T-score of -1.0
to -2.5 is osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis). A T-score of less than -2.5 is
Q: When was osteoporosis first defined?
In 1940 when researchers noticed a decrease in bone mass in pigeons
whose ovaries had been removed. This meant that the pigeons were no
longer producing estrogen, thereby creating the hypothesis that
providing estrogen as an osteoporosis treatment can prevent and reverse osteoporosis. While true,
estrogen therapy is now understood to also increase a woman's risk for
blood clots, strokes and breast and cervical cancers. Since 99% of calcium in the body is stored in bones, loss of bone mass also led to the recommendation for taking calcium supplements to prevent and treat this disease.
Q: When was the diagnosis of osteoporosis created?
In 1994 when the World Health Organization (WHO) defined how much
bone mineral density must be lost before a diagnosis of osteopenia
(pre-osteoporosis) and osteoporosis can be given.
Q: Where in the body is bone density measured?
DEXA scans can be done of the lumbar (low back) spine, hip, wrist and heal. Scans of the lumbar spine and hip are considered the gold standard for diagnosing osteoporosis. While there are companies that offer inexpensive scans of the wrist and heal, these are not considered diagnostic of osteoporosis.
Q: At what age should I get a bone density scan?
The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), part of the US Health and Human Services issued a report in 2002 recommending all women 65 and older get screened for osteoporosis. The American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognizes that many medications and medical conditions cause osteoporosis.
For a list of medications and medical conditions that cause osteoporosis, see Osteo-K FAQ: Medications and Diseases that Cause Osteoporosis and Fractures. Anyone 65 years or older, or anyone taking medications, or having medical conditions that cause osteoporosis should talk to their healthcare provider about getting screened.