When The Bone Thief Arrives Unexpectedly

Osteoporosis is a disease which causes the bones to become so brittle that bones are easily broken by a mild fall, or sometimes just by coughing. Bone mineral density (BMD) testing is the only type of screening which can detect osteoporosis before breaks occur. A bone density test, also referred to as a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DeXA), can tell if a patient’s bone density is worsening, getting better, or staying the same. Screening is a useful predictor of osteoporosis.

3 Unexpected Candidates for Osteoporosis Screening

Understanding the T-score

Bone density screening is the only procedure which can be used to test for osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. Using x-ray, the procedure measures the density of a patient’s bones on a scale known as a T-score. This is what a patient’s T-score means:

  • A T-score of -1.0 or more shows healthy bone density.
  • A T-score ranging between -1.0 and -2.4 indicates low bone density (osteopenia).
  • A T-score of -2.5 or less indicates osteoporosis.

Bone density loss

Though most people do not experience bone density loss, typically, osteoporosis affects mostly elderly men and women. However, the bone thief can strike without warning. Here are three unexpected candidates for osteoporosis screening.

1. Men

Osteoporosis is often overlooked in men. Although the incidence of this disorder is less common in men than in women, there are several indicators for men to be screened for osteoporosis. One of the most common causes of bone loss in men is low testosterone. Other indicators for men under age 65 are typically secondary to hormonal disorders such as pituitary and thyroid disease.

2. People suffering from obesity

Obesity and osteoporosis are both becoming increasingly common health problems secondary to the prevalence of lap band surgeries. Extreme dieting and other obesity treatments can cause poor vitamin absorption, especially where calcium is concerned. New research shows that a high body fat percentage may be a risk factor for osteoporosis.

3. Children

Juvenile idiopathic osteoporosis (JIO) is a rare condition in which children’s bones become demineralized. As the name suggests, the cause is unknown, but this is referred to as secondary osteoporosis. The most common medical conditions that cause osteoporosis in children are thyroid disorder, parathyroid disorders, eating disorders, osteogenesis imperfecta, and Cushing’s syndrome. The symptoms of JIO include back pain, easily fractured bones, and difficulty walking.

Who should be screened?

In general, men aged 60 and post-menopausal women should get a DeXA scan. Bone density testing can be used in other cases if unexpected fractures occur, if labs indicate abnormalities. In these cases, screening can help to diagnose and possibly prevent osteoporosis. Patients can find out more about osteoporosis screening from a healthcare provider.