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Why bone density matters

As we age, our bones can lose mass and become more fragile, increasing the risk of suffering a broken bone. When we understand the condition of our bones, we can take steps to reduce the risk that a bone may be broken during a minor fall or routine activity.

Bones are composed of mineral content, which represents their density and strength. When bones lose density, they can become weaker.

“Women are most susceptible to the breakdown in bone density as they age, particularly after they reach menopause,” said Harish Veeramachaneni, M.D., M.P.H., a specialist in family and geriatric medicine with Primary Care-Waynesboro. “It is important to evaluate the density of the bones to determine if a woman is at increased risk of fractures.”

Bone densitometry is a type of diagnostic imaging that measures the density and mineral content of the bones. A bone density test is often used to diagnose a condition called osteoporosis, in which bones become weak and brittle. The test can also help to provide a general idea of one’s risk for bone fractures.

During the bone density exam, the patient lies on a table while a special X-ray scanner moves over the body, taking measurements, usually of bones in the spine and hip. The exam is quick and painless, but the measurements are very important, helping your doctor know whether you may have decreased bone mass. Results of the exam are reported as a score, with a negative score indicating that the patient’s bone mass is below normal.

“If a bone density test reveals that the patient has weak or brittle bones, treatment in the form of vitamins, exercise or medication, including certain infusions, may be recommended,” said Dr. Veeramachaneni.

It is recommended that all women age 65 and older have a bone density test, which can be scheduled with a physician’s order. Those who are younger than 65 should speak to their doctor about the need for testing, based on their personal risk for osteoporosis.

To schedule a bone density exam at a Maury Regional Health facility, speak to your physician or call 931.380.4044.


Harish Veeramachaneni, M.D., M.P.H.
is a specialist in family and geriatric medicine associated with Primary Care-Waynesboro in Waynesboro, Tennessee. He is board certified in family medicine and geriatric medicine.


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