As we age, we become more prone to bone density loss, especially postmenopausal women and anyone with a vitamin D deficiency. This bone loss can lead to osteoporosis, which often occurs without any noticeable symptoms, so by the time you feel pain or have a fracture, osteoporosis may already be present.
So, what are the early signs of osteoporosis?
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Difficulty getting up from a chair without using your arms
- Joint or muscle ashes
- High level of serum calcium or alkaline phosphate on a blood test
- A resting pulse that is greater than 80 beats per minute
What do you do if you think you are at risk or already have osteoporosis? Get screened for bone loss. A bone mineral density (BMD) screening is the most reliable diagnostic test for osteoporosis. The most common type of BMD screening is a dual x-ray absorptiometry scan (DXA or DEXA). This scan is a painless procedure, using very low levels of radiation to measure bone density.
Who should get screened?
- Women over 65
- Women who have more than one risk factor
- Postmenopausal women who have had a fracture
Since there are no noticeable symptoms of bone loss, screenings should occur before you have reason to worry.