Osteoporosis Diagnosis

If you are a man or woman at risk for bone loss — and especially if you have had a low energy fracture (a fracture from a minor trauma) after age 50 — you should have a bone mineral density test to monitor the mass of your bones. Ask your doctor about a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. This safe, simple, and non-invasive test takes only a few minutes and measures the amount of bone present in the spine and hips, which helps diagnose osteoporosis or osteopenia. The NOF recommends that all women aged 65 and older, and all men aged 70 or older, should have a bone density test. They further recommend that younger postmenopausal women and men aged 50 to 69 with risk factors for osteoporosis should be tested.

Others who might need to be tested include

  • Adults with any condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or taking a medication, such as corticosteroids, that may contribute to bone loss.
  • Anyone whose doctor is considering prescribing osteoporosis drug therapy
  • Postmenopausal women who are discontinuing estrogen therapy

Editors:

Jens Bollerslev, MD
Rikshospitalet Medical Clinic

Steven T. Harris, MD
UC San Francisco

Dolores Shoback, MD
UC San Francisco/VA Medical Cente

Last Review: May 2013