We understand that to remain proactive about our health we should have regular screenings. Colon cancer screenings like colonoscopies, mammograms, blood tests, and skin cancer screenings are all valuable ways to prevent serious disease or catch it while it is still treatable. When we reach a certain age, a DEXA scan can do the same. Let’s discover what a DEXA bone scan tells you about your bone health.
What Is A DEXA Scan?
Remember when mom told you to eat all your fruits and vegetables, drink milk, and play a while in the sun every day? These were all good ways to build strong bones for life.
As we age we can lose strength and mineral density in our bones. A DEXA scan is a non-invasive test that measures bone density, the acronym standing for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Two X-rays are aimed at your bones to tell you if you might be at risk for osteoporosis or fractures. This test can detect changes in your bones as small as 1%, making it much more accurate than a simple X-ray which can only detect changes after you have lost 40%.
Since osteoporosis normally affects older women post-menopause, Dr. Arlene Weinshelbaum may recommend this test once you reach the age of 65 and have lost estrogen. If you have a higher risk, it may be recommended at age 60. Men should have at least one test once they reach age 70.
This painless and quick test will tell you specifically about the bone density of your spine, hips, and sometimes the forearm.
The Importance Of A DEXA Scan
Once you have the initial scan, and Dr. Weinshelbaum has a baseline, there may be additional ones to evaluate if you have lost any bone density and its progression. It will tell you if your bone density has decreased, increased, or stayed the same.
Purposes of the scan include the following:
- If you suffer a fracture, it can tell you if it was due to osteoporosis
- To decide if medication is needed to slow the progression of osteoporosis
- If you have back pain that could be a problem with your spine
- If you have lost at least a half inch of height in a year
- If you have lost a total of an inch and a half of height
Your results will be reported to you as a T score. -1.0 or lower is normal, between -1 and – 2.5 = low bone density, and -2.5 or lower = osteoporosis.
Maintain Your Bone Strength
Exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, taking Vitamin D supplements are all good ways to keep your bones strong and prevent fractures and osteoporosis.
Maintain your calcium intake, eat lots of salmon, green veggies like broccoli and spinach, and add weights to your exercise. Limit smoking and alcohol use.
Mom would be proud.