June 3, 2003 at 7:51 PM CDT - Updated June 21 at 6:27 PM
Bone Scan for Women By: Wendy Ray
(Cape Girardeau, MO)--You feel your bones when they ache, but you don't feel them thinning.
Overtime that thinning can lead to bone loss, or osteoporosis. But a simple test can spot the problem. Bone mineral density tests can find bone loss before it's too late and leads to painful health problems
A push of a button and the right positioning, gives a bone density machine what it needs to scan a patient's spine and left hip, to see if she has bone loss. Dr. Michael Jessup says, "Supposedly you can lose three to four percent of bone each year. If a patient misses for a couple of years, it's possible she has lost 8 to 10 percent of bone." Dr. Jessup says the problem with bone loss is, you can't feel it happening. That's why he says it's important for women over 50 to get bone mineral density tests every two to three years. He explains how it works. "It shoots an x ray through the bone and determines how much material is there to reflect rays," he says. "Obviously more porous bones, the more it shoots right through the bones."
A printout follows, and results are given immediately. Dr. Jessup says if the test shows there is low bone density, patients can be put on medications to help build their bones up. But there are things you can do to prevent bone loss from happening. "Take calcium in the range of 1200 to 1500 milligrams a day, and vitamin D in the 600 to 800 milligram a day range," Dr. Jessup suggests.
He adds that most insurance companies cover bone density screenings for women over 50, or for thosewho have risk factors for osteoporosis such as menopause, tobacco use, or an inactive lifestyle.