When to Consider a Bone Density Scan

Jan 17, 2023
When to Consider a Bone Density Scan
Bone density scans are the most efficient way to determine if you have osteoporosis and a high risk for bone fractures. But when’s a good time to start getting them? Read on to learn when you should consider getting a bone density scan.

Bone density scans are low dose X-rays that measure exactly what the name implies: bone density. Bone density — also called bone mineral density — is the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones that give them their strength. 

After menopause, the density and strength of your bones starts to decrease because of falling hormone levels, which increases your risk for developing osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Karen Mass, MD, FACOG, Leslie Rubeck, CNM, and the rest of our team at Women’s Specialty Care recommend bone density scans in order to obtain vital information on the density of your bones and your risk for osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease.

Who should be getting bone density scans?

It’s recommended that if you’re a woman over the age of 65 that you should receive a bone density scan. However, if you’re fully through menopause and younger than 65, you should also receive a bone density scan.

If you have any of the following risk factors for osteoporosis, you also qualify for a bone density scan:

  • History of bone fractures
  • Hunched posture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Body weight under 127 pounds
  • Unknown cause of back pain
  • Excessive alcohol use

You should also consider getting a bone density scan if you’ve lost more than 1.5 inches of your height. It means that you’re losing bone mass in your spine.

What to expect from a bone density scan

During a bone density scan, a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) machine examines your bone density in the neck of your femur, your spine, and your forearm. These scans are quick and the most accurate way to find out your risk for osteoporosis and spontaneous fractures. They also provide information on lean tissue mass, fat mass, and body fat percentage.

Your results should be available the same day, and the staff will let you know what your T-score is, which is the difference between the density of your bones and the density of the bones of a healthy 30-year-old woman.

If your scans don’t show any bone loss, or only minor bone loss, our team recommends getting bone scans about every two years afterwards

However, if your T-score shows notable or significant bone loss (T-Score below -1.5), our team will encourage you to come in for more frequent testing. We can also provide some therapy methods to protect you from further bone loss.

Next steps

To learn more about bone density scans or to find out if you qualify for one, contact our team by calling 847-295-0433, or use our online scheduler to request an appointment with us today.