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Osteoporosis Screening

Overview

If you or your doctor thinks you may be at risk for osteoporosis, you may have a screening test if you have:

  • A broken bone (fracture) from a minor injury and the fracture may have been caused by osteoporosis.
  • Another medical condition that is known to cause bone thinning. This includes hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease.
  • Risk factors for osteoporosis or symptoms that suggest osteoporosis. Risk factors include having a family history of the condition, smoking, and getting little or no exercise.

Testing for women

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women age 65 and older routinely have a bone density test to check for osteoporosis.

If you are at increased risk for broken bones caused by osteoporosis, routine testing should start sooner.footnote 1 The USPSTF recommends that you and your doctor check your fracture risk using a tool such as FRAX to help decide whether you should be screened for osteoporosis.

The FRAX tool can help predict your risk of having a fracture related to osteoporosis in the next 10 years. You can use this tool. Go to the website at www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX, and click on Calculation Tool. If you have had a bone density test on your hip, you can type in your score. If you have not had that test, you can leave the score blank.

Most experts recommend that the decision to test younger women be made on an individual basis, depending on the risk of osteoporosis and whether the test results will help with treatment decisions.

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when to start bone density screening.

Testing for men

Experts suggest that older men talk to their doctors about osteoporosis and have a bone density test if they are at risk.

Screening test

A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) test checks for osteoporosis. The test measures bone thickness. It is used to see if your bones are getting thin and brittle, which means they could break more easily.

References

Citations

  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, et al. (2018). Screening for osteoporosis to prevent fractures: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA, 319(24): 2521–2531. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.7498. Accessed October 29, 2018.

Credits

Current as of: May 4, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Carla J. Herman MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine

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