Early Intervention can Slow Osteoporosis. Get the Information you Need With an Osteoporosis Test.
Osteoporosis is a common condition that afflicts millions of Americans each year. If undetected, osteoporosis can make sufferers more susceptible to debilitating bone fractures. Early diagnostic testing can enable individuals to take steps to manage their osteoporosis, potentially reducing the rate of decline.
Here we look at what osteoporosis is, alongside consideration of the lab tests that can be used to diagnose it.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the process of reducing bone density. Osteoporosis can occur in any bone in the body. For a variety of reasons (some of which are discussed below), the normal reabsorption of bone cells by osteoclasts (specialist cells) isn't matched by the production of fresh bone cells from osteoblasts. The result is a net reduction in bone density.
Osteopenia, or bone density, is the pre-cursor to osteoporosis. Osteopenia is diagnosed when bone density tests show an individual has a lower bone density than average for their age, but not so low that they are suffering from osteoporosis. Osteopenia doesn't invariably lead to osteoporosis. If caught and treated, osteopenia can be slowed.
The loss of bone density is a natural process, which can be accelerated by various pathologies. Bone density starts to naturally decline from the 30s onward. It occurs in both genders but is usually more pronounced in post-menopausal women. The fact that there are no symptoms of osteoporosis in the early stages makes it difficult to spot.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Several natural and pathological risk factors increase the chances of developing osteoporosis. Some of these include:
- Being post-menopausal. Estrogen regulates bone development and keeps bone health high. As estrogen levels decline during menopause, osteoporotic processes are accelerated.
- Having a low BMI
- Not exercising regularly.
- Some medical conditions (including absorption, hormonal and inflammatory conditions).
- Long-term steroid use.
- The long-term use of some medicines.
- A family history of osteoporosis.
- Heavy drinking or substance misuse.
- Having suffered from anorexia or bulimia.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is primarily caused by a lack of calcium. This may be due to individuals not ingesting sufficient calcium, or it may be due to physiological factors that prevent the calcium from being absorbed and utilized by the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis
There are no outward signs of osteopenia, which is the less severe loss of bone density that can precede osteoporosis. Without diagnostic testing, the first sign that many people have that they have developed osteoporosis is when they fracture a bone.
Some sufferers from osteoporosis develop a pronounced hump on their back (a kyphosis). This is due to multiple mini fractures of the spinal vertebrae, meaning they're no longer able to hold the head and neck erect.
Testing for osteoporosis is the only way of reliably determining whether you have the condition.
Lab Tests for Osteoporosis
Lab testing aims to try to identify the processes that are contributing to the loss of bone density. Whilst bone density loss can be measured using imaging techniques, lab testing is needed to provide answers to the question of why bone density loss is occurring.
Lab Tests Include:
What to eat to beat osteoporosis?
Generally, nutritionists recommend eating a healthy, balanced diet that's rich in calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium is found in dairy foods, green, leafy vegetables, soy products, nuts, tofu, and oily fish. Vitamin D is normally obtained by getting sufficient sunlight. It's also found in oily fish, eggs (the yolk), and fortified foods.
What exercise should I do to manage my osteoporosis?
Weight-bearing and strength training are the go-to exercises to help maintain bone density. It's also worth exercising to improve balance and flexibility - exercises such as tai chi, yoga, and Pilates can improve balance, making a fall (which could result in a fracture in those with low bone density) less likely.
Can I take medications for osteoporosis?
Some medications can improve bone density and/or prevent further decline. They may include:
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators.
- Testosterone treatment
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
- Parathyroid hormone
- Vitamin D and Calcium supplements
Your primary care provider will be able to discuss drug options with you as part of your osteoporosis care plan.
Can osteoporosis be reversed?
With appropriate lifestyle changes alongside drug therapy, it's often possible to prevent further bone density loss or significantly slow the loss rate.
Unfortunately, it's not usually possible to reverse any osteoporotic changes that have already occurred. Therefore, prompt testing is recommended so that changes can be caught early on before the condition becomes too severe.
Lab Testing for Osteoporosis FAQs
What's tested at a lab?
A blood sample is required for lab tests that assist in determining potential causes or risk factors for osteoporosis.
Is a lab test all that's needed to diagnose osteoporosis?
No - if your lab test results suggest you have a condition that predisposes you to osteoporosis, we recommend that you get an imaging test (such as a central DXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) to get a bone density score. The bone density score will determine the degree of osteopenia or osteoporosis you're suffering from.
Benefits of Osteoporosis Lab Testing With Ulta Lab Tests
Blood testing is one of the best ways to find out if you have Osteoporosis. Ulta Lab Tests provides a platform for you to order highly accurate and reliable lab tests directly from Quest Diagnostics. Our Osteoporosis lab panels are structured to include a group of tests to detect, monitor, and track your bone health.
By getting tested with Ulta Lab Tests, you can take control of your health and make informed decisions while monitoring the changes in your health.
Our testing is secure and includes confidential results available without insurance or referrals and is very affordable. They're also 100% guaranteed to satisfy. Order your blood tests today, and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.
Take charge of your health and track your progress with Ulta Lab Tests!