ASSESS YOUR RISK BEFORE OSTEOPOROSIS OCCURS

Early detection is key. Talk to your doctor about assessing your risk of broken bones. Your doctor can arrange to test your bone mineral density, or BMD, which is assessed with a DEXA scan. The results will help the GP to know if you need to take action to improve your bone health. Talk to your doctor about getting a DEXA scan to assess your bone health.

WHAT IS A DEXA SCAN?1

DEXA STANDS FOR “DUAL-ENERGY X-RAY ABSORPTIOMETRY”.

It is a test that measures the density of your bones in the spine and hip – which are the bones most affected by osteoporosis. The result of the scan is called a T-score, which helps to diagnose osteoporosis and determines if you are at risk of future fractures. DEXA scans are available in most hospitals, medical imaging facilities and there are even mobile DEXA providers.

WHY DO I NEED TO HAVE A DEXA SCAN?

Bone density scans are an important tool that helps doctors to diagnose osteoporosis, as it gives them a way to assess your future risk of fractures.

A DEXA scan will help your GP to decide if they need to take action to improve your bone health.

WHAT DOES THE SCAN SHOW?

The scan will provide a result called a T-score – this compares your bone density score with the average score of healthy young adults.

This score will determine if you have normal bones, low bone density (also called osteopenia) or osteoporosis. It will help to guide your treatment needs and monitor your progress over time.

MY BMD T-SCORE – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?1

BMD T-SCORE RESULT ACTIONS YOU SHOULD TAKE
–1 or above Healthy bone Maintain bone health

Do regular weight-bearing exercise and have a healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D

Between –1 and –2.5 Osteopenia Visit your doctor for a plan to minimise further bone loss

Your doctor will look for causes of low bone density and assess your fracture risk. If you have already broken a bone, an osteoporosis medicine may be started.

–2.5 or lower Osteoporosis Visit your doctor to start treatment to reduce fracture risk

Your doctor may start treatment with specific osteoporosis medicines and ensure you have adequate calcium and vitamin D levels.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Read these articles to find out more about diagnosing osteoporosis.

References

1 International Osteoporosis Foundation. Love your bones: Protect your future. 2016. osteoporosis.foundation/educational-hub/material/brochures.

2 International Osteoporosis Foundation. That’s osteoporosis. A compact guide to osteoporosis and its prevention and treatment. 2019. osteoporosis.foundation/iofbonehealth/patientleaflet.

3 Healthy Bones Australia. Calcium and bone health. 2020. healthybonesaustralia.org.au.

4 International Osteoporosis Foundation. Prevention. osteoporosis.foundation/health-professionals/prevention.

5 Healthy Bones Australia. Exercise and bone health. 2020. healthybonesaustralia.org.au.