Bone Density Testing: What to Expect

Learn about osteoporosis and the test that can show if you have it.

After breaking a bone, recovering was surely your first priority—and that’s understandable. But now that your fracture is being treated, or has even fully healed, it’s time to take the next step, one that can help ensure you stay active, mobile and independent for years to come: reporting your fracture to your primary care physician and getting an osteoporosis evaluation.

Unfortunately, about 80% of people who suffer a fracture fail to take that step, yet if osteoporosis caused their break, the consequences can be serious. When left untreated, osteoporosis can cause bones to become so fragile that merely rolling over in bed can cause a fracture. Over time, fractures can be debilitating, causing near-constant pain.

Luckily, a painless exam, called a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) test, can help your physician assess the current state of your bones and find out what action you need to take, if any. Here’s a closer look at the DXA exam.

What to expect:
Wearing a gown, you’ll lie on a padded table, while a mechanical arm moves above you. The test is painless and takes less than half an hour.

How the results are reported:
You’ll receive a T-score, a number that compares your bones with those of a healthy 30-year-old adult.

What they mean:
A score of -1 or higher means you have normal bone density. A score between -1 and -2.5 means you may have a condition called osteopenia, or low bone mass. A score of -2.5 or lower indicates you may have osteoporosis.

What happens next?
Be sure to discuss the results with your physician. If you have osteoporosis, there’s much you can do. Turn the page to learn more.

Haven’t followed up yet?
It’s not too late! Make an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss your fracture.

Published March 2014

Bone Density Testing: What to Expect
Did Osteoporosis Cause Your Fracture?
Osteoporosis at a Glance

What You Need to Know
Why Your Spine, Wrists & Hips Are at Risk

Top 4 Bone-Health Myths—Set Straight!
Osteoporosis Fast Facts

Separating Myths From Facts

How Fragile Are Your Bones?
How Your Spine Changes as You Age

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