How Is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?

For performing diagnostic tests, your healthcare provider will first note down your age, lifestyle habits, history of any fractures, chronic health conditions, medications you are taking, family history of osteoporosis, symptoms,etc. They will record this information and prescribe you some screening tests. According to the Mayo Clinic website, the diagnostic tests that are generally suggested for the treatment of osteoporosis are as follows:

Bone density tests

The healthcare provider will perform a bone density test to check for the following:

  • To confirm osteoporosis.
  • To check bone health and the risk of fractures.
  • To determine the risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
  • To initiate and monitor osteoporosis treatment.

Osteoporosis makes the bones become brittle and porous from the inside, which makes them highly prone to breakage and sudden fractures.A bone density test will check for the health of the bones and determine whether the person is experiencing the symptoms of osteoporosis.

The tests are conducted with X-rays, which scan a segment of bone and help in finding the calcium density and several other minerals that are essential for bone health. Commonly, the X-ray-scanned images of the spine, hip, and forearm regionsare tested for bone analysis.

Moreover, the risk of developing osteoporosis is higher among women after menopause. This happens because, after menopause, the estrogen levels start declining, which impacts bone health and makes them prone to sudden fractures due to the weakening of bones. However, men can also get diagnosed with osteoporosis. The healthcare provider will recommend tests in the following cases:

  • Fractures – If you have got some bone fractured, chances are, they might be weak and fragile, which hasled to the easy fracture. It depends on how you got the fracture, because people with osteoporosis may get fractures just by sneezing, bending, or even coughing.
  • Loss of height – As per the National Institutes of Health, if a person loses more than 2 inches of height, then that is a significant predictor of osteoporosis.
  • Hormone deficiency – The drop in the sex hormones that are estrogen in females and testosterone in males can lead to bone density loss.
  • Medications – The side effects of certain medications contribute to the loss of bone density and health.CT scan

Computed Tomography (CT) is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that combines a series of X-ray images to generatecross-sectional images of the bones. This test obtains finer details of the bones compared to standard X-ray scans. You will be recommended to get a CT scan by your healthcare provider to determine any bone-related disorders such as fractures and tumors.

CT scan tests expose the body to ionizingradiation that detects internal injuries, traumas, and fractures. These tests do have potential risks;therefore, it is necessary to become aware of them by talking to the healthcare provider.


Ultrasound, also known as diagnostic medical sonography, generates images of your internal organs with the help of sound waves. This is done using an ultrasound device which works by measuring how sound waves move through the bones. It determines the bone density and bone quality.


To prevent the condition of your bones from worsening any further and to restore their strength and health, your doctor will prescribe some common types of medications. The medications and treatments used to manage osteoporosis are given below:

  • Bisphosphonates – These are the group of medications that slow down bone loss. Healthcare providers commonly prescribe these medications for improving bone density and restoring bone strength. They can lead to some commonside effects, which include abdominal pain, nausea, fever, headache, etc.
  • Bone-building medications – These medications stimulate the growth of new bones. These are available in the form of oral medications and injections. Those who have suffered bone loss and fractures are prescribed these bone-building medications by their healthcare provider.
  • Denosumab injections – These are prescribed mostly to postmenopausal women having osteoporosis. These are shots, which help in reducing the risk of fractures and bone loss. When the medications fail to give effects, then the doctor may prescribe these shots. They do have some side effects such as joint pain and muscle pain in the arms or legs.
  • Hormonal therapies – With aging, the levels of sex hormones in the body start declining naturally. Women, especially menopausal are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. This happens because of the decrease in the levels of estrogen. Similarly, men after a certain age start losing testosterone hormone, which potentiates their risk of bone loss and fractures.

Lifestyle changes to manage osteoporosis

In addition to using medications and other treatment techniques, it is equally important to make some changes in your lifestyle. Given below are some factors that must be combined with medical treatment.

  • Exercise – Performing some weight-bearing or aerobic exercises along with some strength training exercises will be beneficial for strengthening your bones. Such activities can be done during the initial stages of osteoporosis, but when the damage is severe, and the bones are prone to fracture then one must never perform any exercise without asking the doctor. Some physical activities are not appropriate for individuals with osteoporosis. To know which are safe, one must work closely with a physical therapist.
  • Diet –Eating calcium-rich foods can replenish lost bone mass. In addition to that, foods that contain vitamin D must also be eaten, which helps with calcium absorption in the body. Foods that are loaded with calcium are Leafy green vegetables,spinach, kale, broccoli, dairy products, soybeans, and calcium-fortified cereals. Those with vitamin D include dairy products, eggs, yogurt, mushrooms, oily fish, and oranges.
  • Sunlight – Expose your skin to sunlight every day for a few minutes. This will stimulate the release of vitamin D in the body, which will boost calcium absorption and improve bone health.
  • Give up substance abuse – Alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs can have a negative impact on bone health.

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