Osteoporosis (cont.)

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Who should have bone density testing?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines state that there are several groups of people who should consider DXA testing:

  • All postmenopausal women below age 65 who have risk factors for osteoporosis
  • All women aged 65 and older
  • Postmenopausal women with fractures, although this is not mandatory because treatment may well be started regardless of bone density
  • Women with any of more than 50 medical conditions associated with osteoporosis; a primary-care physician can scan a patient's list of medical illnesses to determine if one of these conditions is present
  • Women whose decision to begin treatment for osteoporosis might be aided by bone density testing to determine the presence or absence of osteoporosis or osteopenia

The National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines state that bone density testing does not need to be performed if a person has a known osteoporotic fracture because the patient will be treated for osteoporosis with or without a bone density study. In addition, bone density testing is not appropriate if the person undergoing the test is not willing to take treatment based on the results. Therefore, if bone density testing is done, it should be performed on people willing to take some specific action based on the results.

What is the treatment for osteoporosis, and can osteoporosis be prevented?

The goal of treatment of osteoporosis is the prevention of bone fractures by reducing bone loss or, preferably, by increasing bone density and strength. Although early detection and timely treatment of osteoporosis can substantially decrease the risk of future fractures, none of the available treatments for osteoporosis are complete cures. In other words, it is difficult to completely rebuild bone that has been weakened by osteoporosis. Therefore, prevention of osteoporosis is as important as treatment. The following are osteoporosis treatment and prevention measures:

  1. Lifestyle changes, including quitting cigarette smoking, curtailing excessive alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and consuming a balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D
  2. Medications that stop bone loss and increase bone strength, such as alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), raloxifene (Evista), ibandronate (Boniva), calcitonin (Calcimar), zoledronate (Reclast), and denosumab (Prolia)
  3. Medications that increase bone formation such as teriparatide (Forteo)

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Osteoporosis - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms at the onset of your osteoporosis disease?
Osteoporosis - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, including medication or supplements, have you tried for your osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis - Share Your Experience Question: Do you or a relative have osteoporosis? Please share your experience.
Osteoporosis - Risk Factors and Causes Question: Do you have any risk factors for osteoporosis? What are they?
Osteoporosis - Lifestyle Changes Question: What lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, quitting smoking or alcohol), have you made to manage your osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis - Hormone Therapy Experience Question: Have you been prescribed hormone therapy to treat your osteoporosis? What was your experience?
Osteoporosis - Medications Question: What medications have you been prescribed to treat your osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis - Complications Question: Have you had any complications related to your osteoporosis? If so, what were they?