Independence is vital to our quality of life and this is especially true as we get older. While developments in mobility aid technology can increase our self-sufficiency, we should also take other steps to promote movement and reduce the risk of injury.
One of the most common issues we face in the later stages of life is osteoporosis and the preceding condition of osteopenia. This is particularly the case for women.
Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass, which can occur after menopause. The change in hormones at this stage of life can lead to a deficiency in calcium and vitamin D, leaving bones more susceptible to fractures. In fact, serious injury can even occur from minor accidents when bone density is compromised.
However, there are ways of preventing the deterioration of bone mass, especially if it is identified in its early stages. A bone density scan can be undertaken to identify the presence and degree of bone mass loss. With this information, a treatment plan can be devised and undertaken immediately.
When to Have a Bone Density Scan
When it comes to degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, prevention is the best cure. We know far more about this condition these days and much can be done to improve our quality of life.
Bone density issues may not present themselves until after an accident has occurred. If you have risk factors such as a family history of osteoporosis, having a bone density scan is recommended for both men and women after the age of 50.
What is a Bone Density Scan?
If you have lost bone mass, your bones are more porous and vulnerable. Bone density is tested in the following ways:
- Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA): This is the most efficient and commonly used procedure. The use of dual rays means both tissue and bone density can be measured, making the reading more accurate. This method is used to test the hip, forearm, spine, and overall body.
- Single-energy x-ray absorptiometry – In some cases, such as in the measurement of peripheral bones in the forearm or heel, a single ray scan is used.
- Ultrasound: This method is used to test the bone mass quickly, for more localised or minor conditions, with the results being available almost immediately.
Each of these procedures is safe, quick, and painless. Once a problem has been identified your medical practitioner can assist you with advice and dietary and lifestyle changes to support to retention of bone mass in the years ahead. In this way, you can be sure to remain protected against unnecessary injury and impositions on your mobility.