If you think you are at risk of weakened bones, talk to your GP or hospital doctor. They can do tests to check your bone health.
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Your GP or hospital doctor can do tests to check your bone health. They may use online tests, such as FRAX® and QFracture®, to see whether you are at risk of a fracture. The doctor enters information, including your height and weight, into the online tool and it works out your risk.
Your doctor may arrange for you to have a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scan (DXA scan). This is sometimes called a bone mineral density (BMD) scan. During the scan, you will lie on a couch for a few minutes while a scanner moves above your body to measure your bone density. The scan is painless.
The results of the DXA scan are given as a number called a T-score. This shows whether you have normal bone density, or if your bone density is below normal or low. Having low bone density means you are more at risk of fractures. If the test shows that you are at a high risk of fractures, your doctor can advise you about what can help.
There are two online tools that doctors in the UK can use to see whether you are at risk of a fragility fracture. These are called FRAX® and QFracture®. Your doctor may use one of these tests if you:
When your doctor uses the online tool, they will ask about your:
The online tool then works out your risk of developing a fracture. The results will show whether you have a low, intermediate or high risk of a fracture.
This scan may also be called a bone mineral density scan (BMD scan). It checks the density of your bones. If your bone density is low, you have a higher risk of a bone fracture.
Your GP or hospital doctor may arrange for you to have a DXA scan if:
During the DXA scan, you lie on your back on a couch while a scanner moves above your body. The amount of radiation from a DXA scan is much less than from a normal x-ray.
The scan only takes a few minutes and is painless. It is important there are no metal fastenings such as zips in the area being scanned. You may be asked to put on a hospital gown for the scan.
The results of the scan will show whether you have:
Your DXA scan results are reported as a number called a T-score. Your T-score is your bone density compared with the bone density of an average healthy young adult of your gender. Your T-score is the number of units that your bone density is above or below the average.
|-1 and above||Your bone density is normal.|
|Between -1 and -2.5||Your bone density is below normal. Doctors call this osteopenia.|
|-2.5 and below||This score suggests you have osteoporosis. Your bone density is low and your bones are at higher risk of fracture.|
If tests to check your bone health show you have low bone density or a high risk of fracture, your GP may advise you to:
The bones have several functions in the body, including protecting your internal organs.
Many factors can affect your bone health, such as your age, weight and lifestyle.
Cancer treatments can sometimes reduce the hormone levels in the body. This can lead to bone loss.
You can improve your bone health by making changes to your lifestyle.
Try to find a type of exercise that you enjoy. This means you are more likely to keep doing it.
There are drug treatments that can help to reduce bone loss and the risk of fractures.
This booklet explains why bone health is important, what factors affect your bones and suggests helpful lifestyle changes to maintain healthy bones.
Why not have a think about small changes that could help make your lifestyle healthier?
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