Osteoporosis is a common disease that gradually weakens bones, causing them to become brittle and prone to fracture. Osteopenia is a precursor to osteoporosis – it gradually weakens bones during a young woman’s most productive time. If osteopenia isn’t diagnosed or treated, osteoporosis can develop.
The debilitating effects of osteoporosis occur cumulatively over many years. Often, a woman may not even realize she has osteoporosis because she exhibits no symptoms and/or feels no pain. The most common way osteoporosis is diagnosed when a woman suffers her first fracture, which is usually in the back or hips. Even if a woman doesn’t suffer a fracture, she may eventually lose height or develop a Dowager’s hump as she ages.
Many women who are postmenopausal are at risk for osteoporosis. The following risk factors, however, can greatly increase your chances of developing osteoporosis:
- Caucasian race or Asian ethnicity
- Thin or small build
- Family history of osteoporosis or osteoporotic fracture
- Early menopause (before age 45)
- Inactive lifestyle
- Chronic use of certain medications including steroids, thyroid hormones, and certain anticonvulsants
- Excessive alcohol use
You may have none of these risk factors and still be at risk of developing osteoporosis. A bone density measurement is the best way to clearly measure your risk.
Bone Mineral Density Scan
A bone mineral density scan is a test that measures the strength of your bones and the density of minerals like calcium in your bones. This scan is often used to evaluate your risk of developing osteoporosis or to evaluate how well treatment for osteoporosis is working.
Bone mineral density scans can be performed at Sacred Heart Hospital and Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton, an affiliate of Sacred Heart HealthCare System.
- To schedule a bone mineral density scan at Sacred Heart Hospital, please call One Call Scheduling at 610-776-5180.
- To schedule a bone mineral density scan at Northampton Imaging Center, please call 610-262-6622.