Hard and solid bones protect your organs and provide structure for your muscles. But, despite their apparent rigidity, bones are living tissue in a constant state of change. Our body continually removes and absorbs old bone while new bone is produced.
It is normal for our bones to lose strength as we age. After age 30 (especially in women following menopause), our body starts to remove old bone and produce new bone unequally. Old bone is absorbed more rapidly than new bone is produced. The result is gradually weakened bones, or osteoporosis, and an increased risk of fractures.
Osteoporosis has no obvious symptoms but, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, known risk factors include:
- Age: The older you are, the greater your risk for developing osteoporosis.
- Gender: Women tend to lose bone more rapidly than men. However, men can also develop osteoporosis.
- Race: Caucasian and Asian women tend to be at a greater risk for developing osteoporosis, but this does not exclude the occurrence of osteoporosis among women in other ethnic groups.
- Menopause: The rate of bone loss increases for women following menopause, due to changes in the body.
- Family or personal history of bone fractures.
Early detection of bone loss is the best strategy for preventing or managing osteoporosis. Bone densitometry is a simple, painless way to test bone strength. This low-dose x-ray test helps physicians diagnose osteoporosis, assess risk for fractures, and recommend the best course of treatment for continued bone health.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a bone density test, regardless of any risk factors, for all women over age 65.
Bone densitometry is available at VOA's Renton location and requires a referral from your primary care physician. If you feel you may be at risk for osteoporosis, talk with your physician about a referral to VOA for a bone density test.