Bone Density Test

March 10, 2022 1:45 pm Published by

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What Is a Bone Density Test?

Bone density tests are painless, low-dose X-rays that determine the strength of your bones by measuring calcium and other minerals. This test, also known as a DEXA scan, is important because it can provide a clear and accurate picture of overall bone health. It also can help doctors determine things like:

  • Risk of future fractures
  • Whether osteoporosis treatments are working
  • Whether a patient has low bone mass, low bone density, or has developed osteoporosis

If you have not had a bone density test, talk to your doctor about whether the time is right to have this screening.

Common Bone Density Conditions

There are two main diagnoses that relate to low bone density: osteopenia and osteoporosis. The differences between these conditions involve the overall strength of the bone.


When a person’s bone density is lower than normal, they may be diagnosed with osteopenia. While this isn’t a disease, it’s a warning sign and indicator of a higher risk of bone fractures. All adults, especially those with osteopenia, can benefit from exercise, which can help strengthen their bones.


When a person’s bone density is low enough that their bones are brittle are more prone to fractures, they can be diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is a disease that often requires treatment.

How Is a Bone Density Test Done?

Bone density tests, or bone densitometries, are performed using small doses of ionizing radiation to create an image of patients’ bones. These noninvasive tests that take only a few minutes to complete, yet they can provide important information to your doctor about your bone health and potential risk for bone-related diseases.

What Age Should You Get a Bone Density Test?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women ages 65 and older get a bone density test. Post-menopausal women younger than age 65 who are at an elevated risk of osteoporosis as determined by a formal clinical assessment tool should also have a bone density test performed.

Do You Need a Bone Density Test After Menopause?

Yes. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 13%–18% of women in the U.S. who are at least 50 years old have osteoporosis, and 37%–50% of women in the same age group have osteopenia. Early diagnosis and adopting preventive measures can help women avoid preventable fractures and reduced mobility.

Estrogen, one of the female hormones, helps your body retain and maintain bone density. Because menopause allows estrogen levels to drop, bone loss and a reduction in bone density can happen quickly and to a significant degree. Many women don’t realize their bone density has dropped until they suffer a broken bone, which can occur suddenly and unexpectedly with osteoporosis.


Your women’s health provider can guide you through every stage of life—including menopause—and make recommendations for screenings you may need. Find a women’s health provider today to learn more about your bone health.

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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center