Our goal is to educate you on the importance of maintaining bone health along with providing some important pieces of information to help you in this endeavor.
- What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease, which progresses silently and, over time, weakens bone. There are no warning signs and is often called “a silent disease” because one can’t always see or feel its effects until a fracture occurs.
- Who is at risk? Osteoporosis affects nearly half of all postmenopausal women and almost one in three men over the age of 65. In addition to being postmenopausal, other risk factors include individuals who take steroids for sustained periods of time due to other medical conditions, women who have low estrogen, a history of some eating disorders, loss of height, etc.
- How is this determined? Here in the Harrisburg area many health care providers offer free bone density heel or finger screenings. Many offer walk-in screenings without an appointment. Contact your health care provider. A T-score (which shows how much your bone density is higher or lower than the bone density of a healthy 30-year-old adult) of -1 or greater states the bone density is considered normal; a T-score of -1 to -2.5 indicates osteopenia or low bone mass which may lead to osteoporosis and a T-score of -2.5 or lower indicates the presence of osteoporosis.
- Does insurance pay for full DXA (not screening) exams? Medicare will pay for a patient’s first DXA and every two years afterwards. DXAs can be done sooner than this if the patient has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and is on prescribed medication for it. Outside of this (which can change), it depends on the patient’s insurance plan (keeping in mind many of the insurances follow Medicare guidelines). It is always best to call your insurance carrier to discuss your coverage with them and always get the name of the person with whom you speak.
- What can be done to lessen our chance of developing this? A healthy diet, one rich in fruits and vegetables, calcium and vitamin D as well as weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercise (aiming for at least 20 minutes three times a week) are critical in maintaining bone strength throughout our lives.
Resource: https://www.nof.org/ (National Osteoporosis Foundation)