By Amy Campbell | November 24, 2008 5:34 pm
Last week, in "Osteoporosis: Yet Another Complication of Diabetes? (Part 1), " we started to look at osteoporosis. As a quick review, osteoporosis is a bone disease whereby you lose too much bone, make too little bone, or both. We also know that, while women are primarily impacted, men can get osteoporosis, too. Everyone needs to be aware of this disease and focus on ways to prevent it. This week we’ll look at diagnosis and medical treatment for osteoporosis.
By the way, the National Osteoporosis Foundation has, on its Web site, a one-page questionnaire that you can take to determine your risk for osteoporosis quickly: www.nof.org/prevention/Risk_Factor_Questionnaire.pdf. When you have a moment, figure out what your risk is. Your health-care provider can also help you with this.
If you and your health-care provider determine that you’re at risk for osteoporosis, the next likely step is to get a bone mineral density (BMD) test. This test is really the only way to determine if you have osteoporosis or have low bone density.
Also known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA, for short), this test can reveal quite a bit of useful information. For example, besides confirming that a person has osteoporosis, it can determine whether a person’s bone density is decreasing, increasing or staying the same; it can pick up low bone density before a bone breaks; and it can even predict the chances of someone breaking a bone in the future. The DEXA test is noninvasive and you don’t even have to take your clothes off! It usually takes no more than 15 minutes to have this done.
Your health-care provider will let you know how often you need to have this test repeated (usually every one to two years), and ideally you should try to go to the same facility to have the test repeated. Your provider will also need to write a prescription for this test, and you should check with your health insurance plan about coverage before you have this done. Once you have the test, you’ll receive results, called a T-score. Here’s what the T-score means:
Basically, the lower the T-score, the lower the bone density.
Other tests used to gauge bone density include ultrasound, CT scan, and X-ray (to detect a broken bone), but the DEXA test is probably the most common.
As with diabetes, it’s never good news to find out that you have osteoporosis. However, also as with diabetes, there are more treatment options available today than there were not too many years ago. If your T-score confirms that you have osteoporosis, your health-care provider may use a tool called the absolute fracture risk which can help guide him into figuring out the best type of treatment for you. If medication is the chosen form of treatment, there are several options to choose from:
Next week: The role of diet in osteoporosis, plus the diabetes link!
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