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Total Joint Replacement Educational Series Part 18: Bone Mineral Density Testing and Osteoporosis

Posted Feb 20 2009 6:14pm

Can Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Testing Prevent Osteoporosis-Related Fractures?

The National Osteoporosis FoundationReports:

  • Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans or 55% of people age 50 or older.

  • In the United States 10 million people are estimated to have osteoporosis and 34 million or more are estimated to have low bone mass (increasing their risk for osteoporosis).

  • Of the 10 million estimated to have osteoporosis, 8 million are women and 2 million are men.

  • 1/2 of women and 1/4 of men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture .

  • Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5-7 years following menopause.

  • Osteoporosis is often unrecognized in elderly men.


What Can You Do to Prevent Osteoporosis-Related Fractures?

Bone Mineral Density Tests (BMD)

·      Specialized tests that measure bone density in various sites of the body

·      Detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs

·      Predict chances of future fracture

·      Determine rate of bone loss

·      Monitor effects of treatment by repeating BMD every year

·      BMD is recommended in:

o      Women ages 65 and older

o      Postmenopausal women who have a history of fractures or who have multiple risk factors

o      Men who have certain conditions that are high risk for osteoporosis (like steroid use)

o      Men and women who have been treated for osteoporosis for prolonged periods

·      Increase in BMD testing and osteoporosis treatment is ASSOCIATED WITH A DECREASE IN HIP FRACTURE INCIDENCE!

o      Secondary causes of osteoporosis should be excluded before initiating treatment with common causes being medications and parathyroid and thyroid problems


What Are Other Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis-Related Fractures besides BMD Testing?

  • Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake

  • Weight-bearing exercise

  • Possible biphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva)

  • Strategies to reduce falls such as eliminating rugs and using an assistive device such as a cane when outside

  • Reduction of risk factors including smoking, low physical activity and poor diet

For more information visit:

Black, Judith and Mary Weaver.  "Bone Mineral Density Testing Can

Prevent Osteoporosis-Related Fractures."  Practitioners Journal of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield(2008): 24-25.

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