About Osteoporosis: Making the Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing osteoporosis involves evaluating your bone density. If the bone density is too low, you will be diagnosed with osteoporosis. There are several effective and relatively quick methods for measuring bone density. Bone density measurement by a method called DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) is the most effective way to assess the risk for osteoporosis. Scanning parts of the body such as the hips or spine using a special type of X-ray machine can confirm you have an increased risk of fractures. Computerized tomography (CT) scans can also be used to check the condition of the bones.

Following the diagnosis of osteoporosis, further studies are needed to look for possible causes. An examination to determine such causes might involve blood and urine tests to measure the levels of certain hormones produced in the body as well as questionnaires on lifestyle and diet, to determine, for example, one's daily intake of calcium and vitamin D.

People who have a family history of osteoporosis, those suffering from anorexia nervosa, and those taking medications such as corticosteroids (that increase the risk for this condition) are recommended to undergo bone density testing even if they have no symptoms. Bone density testing is conducted every one to two years for people already receiving treatment for osteoporosis, to check how the treatment is working.

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