When was the last time you put much thought into your bone density? When was the last time you gave thought to your bone health at all for that matter? Bone density and bone health aren’t exactly prominent features on most health checklists, but it’s important to monitor your bone health, especially as you grow older.
Why is bone health important?
People don’t always associate bones and health. After all, bones remain long after a body is gone, so it’s easy to think of bones as just being hard and inanimate things inside of the body. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. There are 206 bones in the adult body, and each one provides structure, protection, and/or support for another part of the body. And just like organs, muscles, and everything else in the human body, bones can be in good health or in bad health.
Bones constantly change over time. You’re born with 270 bones at birth, and as you grow your bones will wear down and rebuild. This happens throughout the course of your life, although around age 30 your bone mass peaks and you lose more bone than you rebuild. Bone health is important because of the vital role that bones play in virtually every action your body takes. Your bones are what let you stand and move, and they keep everything where it’s supposed to be and well protected.
What is bone density?
Your bone density is basically a measurement of how strong or sturdy your bones are. Denser bones are more solid, which means that they are stronger than bones that are less dense. Osteoporosis translates to “porous bone”. Those with osteoporosis have brittle bones with low density.
What is a bone density test?
A bone density test uses x-ray imaging to determine the density, or the condition, of your bones. These tests are done do diagnose fracture risks, osteoporosis, or other bone disorders. Although bone density tests due cause radiation exposure, the exposure is very low and has an extremely low risk of causing any damage. These tests are non-invasive and are typically conducted in a short amount of time.
When should you get a bone density test?
The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a few recommendations for bone density testing:
- Women over 65
- Postmenopausal women younger than 65 who are at risk for osteoporosis
- Women with medical conditions associated with osteoporosis
- Men over 70
- Men older than 50 but younger than 69 who are at risk for osteoporosis
Of course, you don’t have to fall under these guidelines to need a bone density test. Contact your physician for more information regarding bone health and bone density testing.