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If you or your doctor thinks you may be at risk for osteoporosis, you may have a screening test to check your bone thickness. A screening test may be advisable if you have:
- A fracture in a minor injury that may have been caused by osteoporosis.
- Another medical condition that is known to cause bone thinning.
- Risk factors for, or symptoms that suggest, osteoporosis.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women age 65 and older routinely have a bone density test to test for osteoporosis. If you are at increased risk for broken bones caused by osteoporosis, routine testing should start sooner.footnote 1 USPSTF recommends that you and your doctor check your fracture risk using a tool such as FRAX to help decide whether you should be screened for osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when to start bone density screening.
The FRAX tool can help predict your risk of having a fracture related to osteoporosis in the next 10 years. You can use this tool. Go to the website at www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX, and click on Calculation Tool. If you have had a bone density test on your hip, you can type in your score. If you have not had that test, you can leave the score blank.
Most experts recommend that the decision to test younger women be made on an individual basis, depending on the risk of osteoporosis and whether the test results will help with treatment decisions. To help you decide whether you should be tested for osteoporosis, see:
If you're a man, talk to your doctor about your risk factors and whether bone density screening is right for you. Experts disagree about whether to screen men for osteoporosis and which types of men are more likely to benefit.footnote 1, footnote 2
For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, et al. (2018). Screening for osteoporosis to prevent fractures: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA, 319(24): 2521–2531. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.7498. Accessed October 29, 2018.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation (2014). Clinician's guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. National Osteoporosis Foundation. http://nof.org/hcp/clinicians-guide. Accessed October 22, 2014.
Current as of: April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Carla J. Herman MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Current as of: April 15, 2020
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