What is Osteoporosis?


Osteoporosis is a disease that increases bone loss, making bones fragile and more susceptible to fractures or breaks. After the age of 25, when maximum bone density and strength is reached, the body’s rate of replacing new bone slows in comparison to its rate of removing old bone.

According to recent studies, 28 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. Although it strikes both men and women, women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease. Post-menopausal women are at a great degree of risk for osteoporosis, as one out of every two women over the age of 60 is believed to suffer from osteoporosis.

With osteoporosis, individuals can experience loss of height or a hump on their back, chronic pain, loss of movement caused by fractures and a higher risk of hip fractures which can even have fatal complications.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, several risk factors can increase the chances of developing osteoporosis:

  • Small-boned frame, body weight less than 127 pounds
  • Personal history of a fracture as an adult
  • Broken bones or stooped posture in family members
  • Early estrogen deficiency in women who experience menopause before age 45
  • Estrogen deficiency as the result of amenorrhea
  • Advanced age
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Inactive lifestyle with little or no exercise
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Prolonged use of certain medications

Today, doctors know more about the causes of osteoporosis than ever before and new methods of treatment combined with early detection can substantially slow the effects of osteoporosis.

DEXA Bone Density Scan

Summerlin Hospital offers one of the most accurate tests available for detecting osteoporosis, the DEXA bone density scan.

The DEXA bone density scan measures the strength of your bones by testing how dense they are. By doing this, bone density tests can show if you have osteoporosis or may get it. They can also detect if you are at risk of fractures and can help your healthcare provider monitor your progress through treatment. Bone density tests are painless, simple and quick. With early detection, the effects of osteoporosis can be substantially slowed.

When undergoing a test using the DEXA, a patient simply lies on a table in their own clothes while being scanned by a mobile arm overhead. The test usually takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Patients are advised to dress comfortably and not to wear attire with lots of metal buttons, buckles or zippers.