Why Your Bone Health Matters: Diagnosis is the First Step Bone Health
Why Your Bone Health Matters: Diagnosis is the First Step

Naturally, we set our priorities by the things we can physically see. Our skin, hair, and clothing are just a few examples. But what about the things not visible? 

The structure of your body is composed of 206 bones. Since we are unable to see our bones, it can make it difficult to determine how to care for bones and what we can do to keep them healthy. This guide will help you understand bone health assessment and the resources available at Iowa Ortho.

IOC diagnostic imaging capabilities/importance of diagnosis

“Osteoporosis is a silent bone disease. A bone density scan, such as a DXA or QCT is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis. This is why it is so important to perform routine screening at the appropriate age.” – Paige Goff, PA-C

Osteoporosis, which means porous bone, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone reduce over time. The loss of bone occurs gradually, relatively unnoticed and progressively increases the chance of a bone fracture. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.

  • Bone Density Test – A bone density test measures the number of minerals (focusing on calcium) in the bones. A DXA or QCT test helps to measure your bone density. Both use measurements taken from the lumbar spine and hip region.
  • DXA Test – A Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan assesses bone loss. This test requires less radiation than a QCT test. But the results can be affected by arthritic and vascular calcifications.
  • QCT Test – A Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT) test utilizes a CT scanner to measure your bone mineral density. A QCT test has a higher sensitivity to changes in bone density than a DXA scan and leaves less margin for error when determining the risk of vertebral fractures.

After your bone density test is complete, your provider will go over your results with you to make a treatment plan. Treatments may include but are not limited to exercise regimens, osteoporosis medication, and diet recommendations.

Risk factors for bone health

“Understanding controllable v. uncontrollable factors allows you to make a decision on your treatment plan and be aware of what is putting you at risk for a fracture.” – Dr. Ze-Hui Han, M.D.

Several factors can affect bone health. The following are uncontrollable risk factors;

  • Age – As you age, the chances of you getting osteoporosis increase. Your body density peaks around your mid 30’s and gradually decreases after that.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Women generally have lighter and thinner bones causing bone density loss to be higher. 
  • Family History – You are at greater risk if your parents had osteoporosis or a broken hip.
  • Previous fracture – A bone breaking after a minor fall is a sign of osteoporosis.
  • Menopause/hysterectomy – Estrogen has a protective effect on bone. During menopause, women start to lose bone density at a faster rate. 

Uncontrollable risk factors allow your provider to assess your current bone health while making a plan for the future. 

How maximizing bone health impacts fracture risk.

“There are many modifiable lifestyle factors that can help protect our bones and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, and in turn decrease the risk of fracturing bones.” – Allison N. Bitter, PA-C

Your bones are continuously changing. After age 30, bone remodeling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain.

The biggest thing you can do is take charge of the controllable risk factors to prevent or slow bone loss.

  • Alcohol Intake – Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases your risk of a bone fracture.
  • Poor nutrition – Malnutrition is a concern for seniors since they are at a greater risk of falls and fractures. Making sure your diet is rich in nutrients and well-balanced benefits bone health. 
  • Vitamin D and Calcium– Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Although sunlight is a main source for vitamin D, you can also get vitamin D from food such as fish, mushrooms, eggs, etc. Foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are a few calcium-rich foods. 
  • Body Weight – A healthy weight is crucial for bone density. Being underweight increases the risk of fracture and the development of bone disease, while excess body weight puts additional stress on your bones. 
  • Inactivity – Weight-bearing exercises and activities that promote balance and good posture are beneficial for your bones. 

Providing you with options is one of our top priorities at Iowa Ortho. You can discuss further options or get an evaluation of your hip pain by contacting us at 515-247-8400 or requesting an appointment online.