All about Bone Density Testing

A bone density test determines if you have osteoporosis — a disorder characterized by bones that are more fragile and more likely to break.

The test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are in a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly tested are in the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm.

Having adequate levels of vitamin D is important to maintain bone density along with other cofactors. Patients can speak to their physician/ PCP about getting their levels tested if they haven’t done so and get appropriate supplementation.

Doctors use bone density testing to:

  • Identify decreases in bone density before you break a bone
  • Determine how easy you may be able to break a bone
  • Confirm if you may or may not have osteoporosis
  • Monitor osteoporosis treatment

When should you get a bone scan?

Younger women and men, ages 50-69 should consider the test if they have risk factors such as:
  • Breaking a bone in a minor accident
  • Having Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Having a parent who broke a hip
  • Smoking
  • Drinking heavily
  • Having a low body weight
  • Using corticosteroid drugs for three months or more
  • Having a very low vitamin D level


  • Osteoporosis is a common medical disorder that affects more than 8.9 million fractures annually
  • Osteoporosis affects more than 25 million Americans
  • Osteoporotic fractures can occur on any bone in your body
Factors that may increase your risk for osteoporosis include:
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Body Size
  • Race
  • Family History
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle
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