Osteoporosis Diagnosis and Treatment

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle. Bone is a living tissue made up of cells. If the old cells die off faster than they can be replaced, the bone eventually loses density and becomes brittle. The bone eventually becomes so fragile that even a mild stress, like coughing or bending over, can cause a fracture. Most fractures associated with osteoporosis occur in the hip, spine or wrist.

Diagnostic Tests

There are several diagnostic tests used to identify osteoporosis. All of them measure bone mineral density (BMD) or the amount of minerals in bones. As people age, their bones lose the calcium and other minerals they need to stay strong.

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DEXA is the most common method of measuring BMD, and it is also the most accurate. In it, two different X-ray beams are used to estimate the bone density in the spine and hip. The doctor compares the amounts of each X-ray beam blocked by bones and soft tissue to each other. Dense, strong bones allow less of the beam to pass through them. DEXA is fast, accurate and uses little radiation.

Peripheral dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (P-DEXA) is a variant of DEXA used to measure BMD in the arms or legs. The machines are portable and can be used in a doctor’s office. Dual photon absorptiometry or DPA uses a radioactive substance to measure bone density. It can measure BMD in the hip and spine, but is slower than the other methods.


There is a range of treatments for osteoporosis including medications, exercise and lifestyle changes, and dietary supplements.

Strontium, which is chemically similar to calcium, is a supplement used to treat osteoporosis. It is most commonly found in seafood, but it can also be located in root vegetables, poultry, whole milk, and wheat bran. Strontium is believed to promote the growth of new bone while slowing down the breakdown of old bone.

A good exercise program can strengthen bones and muscles. It also improves balance and coordination and thus reduces the likelihood of falling. Useful exercises include weight-bearing exercises like walking and muscle-strengthening exercises like weight lifting.

Fosomax, Boniva, Binosto, and Actonel are medicines that slow bone loss by inhibiting the cells that break down bone. They have to be used carefully, for they can damage the esophagus. Boniva is taken once a month while the other three are taken weekly. Medications used for menopausal hormone replacement therapy can also be used to treat osteoporosis. Such drugs retard bone loss and prevent fractures.

Forteo is a synthetic form of a parathyroid hormone. It has the distinction of being the first drug that stimulates new bone growth and can increase bone density. Patients take it as an injection that can be effective for as long as 24 months. Side effects associated with Forteo include dizziness, leg cramps, and nausea.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you are worried about bone density loss or osteoporosis, our medical team at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati can help. We offer DEXA testing to help diagnose bone loss. We can then provide customized treatment options for our patients depending on their specific needs. Contact Associates in Women’s Health today to schedule a consultation.

Associates in Women's Health

You Might Also Enjoy...

Learning Your Birth Control Options

Today’s women have many birth control options, but which is the right one for you? Learn about how the advantages, effectiveness, and potential side effects of various methods can impact your choice.

What Happens During a Colposcopy?

If your Pap smear finds abnormal cells, your provider may recommend a colposcopy. This test takes a closer look at your cervical cells. Find out what to expect during and after this important procedure.

Benefits of an IUD

If you’re looking for a safe, dependable birth control method that provides years of highly effective, reversible pregnancy protection, an IUD may be the right choice for you.

Do Periods Change During Perimenopause?

Longer periods. Shorter periods. More frequent periods. Spotting and bleeding between periods. You name it, it can happen during perimenopause. Learn what to expect and why periods change during this time.

How to Know if You're at High Risk for Cancer

Certain health conditions, lifestyle choices, family health patterns, and genetic mutations may increase your risk of developing various kinds of cancer. Find out how we help you understand your personal cancer risk.

5 Habits to Prevent Premature Wrinkles

Premature wrinkles can make you look far older than you feel. But you can start protecting your skin today. Adopting these five powerful daily habits can significantly reduce your risk of premature wrinkles.