Bone Density with Rose Villeneuve, NP

Bone density determines the thickness of your bone and how strong your bone is. If you don't have healthy strong bones, you're at higher risk of developing broken bones or sustaining an injury to your bones. Women need to start thinking about bone density usually after menopause, though sometimes we need to be concerned sooner, depending upon comorbidities or illnesses that patients may have or certain medications that they may be taking.

Typically you learn your bone density by doing a bone density scan. Normally we recommend bone density scans on women once they go through menopause. It would be recommended to do bone density scan prior to menopause if you are breaking bones, if you are shrinking in height or if you're on medications that increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be hereditary. Usually we look at a patient's family history and determine if their mother or grandmother experienced osteoporosis or early hip fractures or vertebral fractures. Osteoporosis is seen more in women than in men because women have smaller bones than men.

There are also things that can increase your risk factors of developing osteoporosis. Some things that you cannot change include your age, your gender, and family history. Some things women can change include certain medications that they are taking that maybe they don't need to stay on long term. Also making sure to follow a healthy diet by getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and getting exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise with low-impact weights. Walking or jogging as we get older and doing things to help with our balance such as tai chi or yoga is very beneficial.

I think women of all ages whenever they become an adult should be thinking about making sure that they get enough calcium and vitamin D because it can help prevent osteoporosis in the future. And it’s important to keep your bones strong by eating foods that are fortified with vitamin D and if you're not able to get enough calcium through your diet then you may want to use over-the-counter supplements.

Annual exams are very important. At that appointment, your doctor will help determine if you need a bone density scan. It would be a good idea to discuss with your health care provider whether you would be benefit from having a bone density scan to evaluate for osteoporosis or early bone loss to determine what type of treatment would be best for you.