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Osteoporosis diagnosis

Osteoporosis is often diagnosed after the weakening of the bones has led to a fracture.

If you are at high risk of osteoporosis your doctor may refer you for a bone density test.

A bone density test can help diagnose osteoporosis. It is a short, painless scan that measures the density (strength) of your bones, usually at the hip and spine. One of the results from this test is called a 'T-score'. It measures your bone mineral density (BMD) and compares it to the bone density of a healthy young adult..

A T-score of:

  • above -1 is normal
  • between -1 and -2.5 is classed as 'osteopenia' (where bone density is lower than average but not low enough to be classed as 'osteoporosis')
  • below -2.5 is classed as 'osteoporosis'.

A bone density test can help diagnose osteoporosis, but your BMD result is not the only factor that determines your risk of fracturing a bone.

Your doctor will also consider your age, sex and any previous fractures before deciding whether you need treatment for osteoporosis.

Last reviewed: September 2017

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What you need to know about Osteoporosis

1.2 million Australians are affected by osteoporosis, which means that their bones are fragile and at risk of fracture. A further 6.3 million people have low bone density (osteopenia), a possible precursor to osteoporosis. However, as many as 4 out of 5 people with osteoporosis don’t know that they have it and therefore don’t know that they are at risk of fracturing a bone. This is because osteoporosis is a ‘silent’ disease without obvious symptoms.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Bone mineral density tests - myDr.com.au

Bone mineral density testing assesses the mineral content of your bones. Low bone mineral density - osteopenia or osteoporosis - makes bones weak.

Read more on myDr website

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile, leading to a higher risk of breaks or fractures. A minor bump or fall can be enough to cause a break in someone with osteoporosis. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. This factsheet explains how rheumatoid arthritis can affect your bones, how to find out if you are at risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to help protect your bone health.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Glucocorticoids and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures. This factsheet is about how taking glucocorticoids can increase the risk of osteoporosis in some people, how you can find out if you are at risk, and what you can do to keep your bones as healthy as possible while you are taking glucocorticoids.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Thyroid disease and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile, leading to a higher risk of breaks or fractures. A minor bump or fall can be enough to cause a break in someone with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is more common in people with thyroid conditio ns than in the general population. This factsheet explains how thyroid disease can affect your bones, how to find out if you are at risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to help protect your bone health

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Anorexia nervosa and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile, leading to a higher risk of breaks or fractures. A minor bump or fall can be enough to cause a break in someone with osteoporosis. People with anorexia nervosa are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. This factsheet explains how anorexia nervosa can affect your bones, how to find out if you are at risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to help protect your bone health

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Hyperparathyroidism and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile, leading to a higher risk of breaks or fractures. A minor bump or fall can be enough to cause a break in someone with osteoporosis. People with hyperparathyroidism are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. This fact-sheet explains how hyperparathyroidism can affect your bones, how to find out if you are at risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to help protect your bone health.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Diabetes and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile, leading to a higher risk of breaks or fractures. A minor bump or fall can be enough to cause a break in someone with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is more common in people with diabetes than in the general population. This fact-sheet explains how diabetes can affect your bones, how to find out if you are at risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to help protect your bone health.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Osteopenia

Osteopenia is the term used by doctors to describe low bone density. People with osteopenia have bones that are weaker than normal, but not weak enough to be called osteoporosis. Osteopenia or low bone density is thought to affect around 6.3 million Australians, and is an early warning sign that you should be taking action to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and breaking a bone in the future.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

Blokes, Bones and Breaks

Osteoporosis is often seen as a woman’s disease but men suffer too. Around 250,000 men in Australia have osteoporosis and this is expected to increase. Men account for 30% of all fractures that occur in people over 50. Osteoporosis can be prevented and treated. Taking early action is the most effective way of preventing a broken bone.

Read more on Osteoporosis Australia website

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