Bone density testing screens men and women for their risk for osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone density. Everyone loses bone mass as they age, but for older women especially, accelerated bone loss is associated with a higher probability of fractures of the back and hip due to falls. In fact, these fall-related fractures are a significant public health problem and can limit a woman’s ability to resume normal activities and live independently.
The most common test to measure bone density is the DEXA: Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. DEXA uses small doses of ionizing radiation to measure bone density, usually in the hip, spine or wrist. It’s a non-invasive test that compares your bone density to an average index based on age, sex and size. The results of DEXA help diagnose osteoporosis and your risk for developing fractures.