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There was a time when a woman learned she had osteoporosis only after she broke a bone. Fortunately, today’s women have access to bone density tests.
Alicia Starr, M.D., medical director of the Women’s Imaging Center at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, wants women to understand these screenings and why they matter. Here are a few things to know.
Strong bones keep us healthy.
Healthy bones protect your organs and support your body. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become more fragile. “The reason it’s a problem is that when you have a loss of bone density, you also have an increased risk for fractures,” Dr. Starr explains. “And in older people, fractures can be associated with severe problems.” She adds that compression fractures in the spine usually result from loss of bone mass and can cause chronic pain.
A bone density test can tell you if you’re at risk.
A bone density scan can reveal if you have osteoporosis or if you’re at risk for the disease. Most people who get the test are postmenopausal women because the loss of estrogen during menopause can cause a decrease in bone density, Dr. Starr explains. But, she notes, osteoporosis can occur in men, too. Certain diseases and medications as well as smoking also can lead to osteoporosis, she adds.
The test is easy on the patient.
You’ll lie on your back as the scanner glides above you, scanning the lower spine and hip, which are the most dense bones in the body. Nothing touches the patient. The test is complete in about 15 to 20 minutes. And because the Women’s Imaging Center is designed with patients’ comfort in mind, you’ll find the environment soothing and friendly.
With knowledge comes power.
If you have osteoporosis or are at risk, there are steps you and your doctor can take to stop the progression of the disease, such as changing your diet or exercise regimen, altering your medications or taking supplements.
Learn more about the services offered at Baylor Plano’s Women’s Imaging Center or get a referral to a physician on the Baylor Plano medical staff who can help assess your risk for osteoporosis.
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