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What to Know About Osteoporosis

What to Know About Osteoporosis

Healthy bones are strong and dense with minerals such as calcium. But when bones lose mass and mineral density due to age or medical conditions, a disease called osteoporosis can result. Eventually, osteoporosis can cause your bones to become thinner, weaker and more prone to fractures and breaking. 

Osteoporosis is called a silent disease because it usually has no symptoms. You may not even know you have it until you break a bone. Osteoporosis-related fractures occur most frequently in the wrist, spine and hip, but they can happen anywhere in the body. 

Risk factors 

Anyone can get osteoporosis at any age. But some circumstances can make it more likely. Some of the most common risk factors are: 

  • Age. People 65 or older are at higher risk. 
  • Sex. Women, who have smaller bones and less bone mass than men, are more likely to develop the condition. 
  • Ethnicity. White and Asian women are at greatest risk, followed by African American and Hispanic women. White men are more likely to develop osteoporosis than African American or Mexican American men. 
  • Lifestyle. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, not getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and a lack of regular physical activity can increase bone loss. 
  • Small body size.  
  • Family history of hip fracture or osteoporosis.  
  • Low estrogen or testosterone levels.  

Reducing your risk 

These tips can help you keep your bones strong and healthy: 

  • Exercise regularly. Include weight-bearing exercises. 
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein, and many fruits and vegetables. 
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use.  

Screening tests 

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), women over age 65 should be screened for osteoporosis with a bone mineral density (BMD) test. Women of any age with risk factors for osteoporosis also should be screened. Currently, the USPSTF does not have osteoporosis screening recommendations for men. 

BMD tests measure levels of essential minerals in your bones. The most common BMD test is dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, also called DEXA or DXA. This simple, painless test takes x-ray pictures of the inside of your body—usually your lower spine and hips—to diagnose osteoporosis. DXA also can show how well the osteoporosis treatment works and assess your risk for fractures. 

Your health care provider will discuss your test results with you. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, your provider will develop a treatment plan that is right for you. 

If you need to schedule a visit, call your primary care provider or visit To schedule an appointment with Dr. Greenman for primary care or to learn more about bone density, call 337.480.6800. 

Sources: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases,, UpToDate