You Should Know
The goal of treating osteoporosis is to prevent fractures and people becoming debilitated or dying as an eventual outcome.
Osteoporosis is preventable: A lifelong diet that is rich in calcium and Vitamin D, plus weight-bearing exercise, can help prevent the onset of Osteoporosis.
If diet and exercise are not enough, there are treatments for individuals at high risk for fracture(s). Choosing treatment requires careful consideration of the benefits, risks, and costs as well as the likelihood of the person with osteoporosis following the medical advice.
Osteoporosis screenings are easy, quick and painless. At CHOF events, our healthcare professionals use a portable ultrasound machine that measures the heel bone. You just put your foot on the machine and you don’t feel a thing. It only takes a couple of minutes and does not have any radiation. You get easy-to read results almost immediately and our healthcare professionals will provide you with results that are clear and easy to read.
There are several types of tests, but the most common is a heel test. After a heel test, you may be asked to take a test to confirm your results with a Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (often called "DXA" or "DEXA") machine. DXA scans are particularly precise and therefore are one of the most accurate methods available for measuring bone density. Using ultra-low dose X-ray, the DXA machine scans and measures bone mineral density at various parts of the body, usually 2 main areas -- the hip and spine -- and is similar to an x-ray in that it is quick and painless.
You should have bone health screening tests administered by trained professionals. If you have a regular doctor or go to clinic for your medical check-ups, ask about getting a bone density exam. An easy way to find out if you are at risk for osteoporosis is on the web at the
Also, you can check the CHOF calendar for screening events on this site to see when CHOF will be in your area. We also encourage you to look at our recommended links to see if there are other screening events happening in your community.
A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to determine your bone health. The test can identify osteoporosis, determine your risk for fractures (broken bones), and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment. The most widely recognized BMD test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA test. It is painless -- similar to having an x-ray. The test can measure bone density at your hip and spine.
The result of your BMD test is reported using what is called a T-score, and it’s important to know what it means. Your T-score is a comparison with normal bone density for young adults. Typically, -2.5 means you are at an immediate risk for a fracture and need to improve your bones' health.
A score of -1 means you have some risk, but you still need to improve you bones' health. Age, diet and exercise are all a part of your risk factor, so it’s important to talk with a doctor about your T-score. If your test has a -2.5 or more from a heel or wrist screening, you will want to have a test with a DEXA machine (easy, painless and quick). If your bone mass is still below normal levels, you need take steps to reverse your bone loss.
Make sure you talk to your doctor about effective treatment options, and what will work best for you. Importantly, ask your doctor about possible side effects of your treatment and what to do if they should occur.
Calcium is an essential mineral that you need for living. Unfortunately, your body cannot make its own calcium; it must come from diet and, in some cases, supplements. While your body does not make calcium, it does take it – in fact it will take it from your bones if you don’t have enough calcium in your food! This is how your bones become weak and can fracture.
That’s why it is important to have a calcium-rich diet and get your bone mass tested – especially if you are 40 or over. Drink milk, eat cheese and broccoli and, if the doctor recommends it, take calcium supplements as instructed. If you are taking any medicine, ask your doctor if it’s OK to take it with milk products or calcium supplements. If not, take them at different times of the day.
If you are lactose intolerant and therefore do not drink milk, you should use calcium-fortified dairy substitutes like calcium-fortified soy milk, lactose-free milk (or goat’s milk), or even add lactose enzymes to your milk. In addition to lactose free milk, tablets and drops are other options you might want to consider.
If you are worried about having too much cheese or dairy products because you have high cholesterol, choose the non-fat or low fat dairy options.
Some people are allergic to milk. If you are one of them, make sure you eat plenty of calcium and vitamin D fortified foods and drinks. Always check with a doctor to guide you on the best way to add calcium and vitamin D supplements to your diet.
Sometimes called the “Sunshine Vitamin” because your body actually creates it from being in the sun each day, Vitamin D is an important supplement that helps you get the most calcium from your diet and deposit it into your bones. Although your body can produce its own vitamin D, it may not be enough because of limited time in the sun due to weather, work or darker skin pigmentation. You can find Vitamin D in dairy foods like milk or egg yolks to help and you can take Vitamin D supplements. It’s important to get enough Vitamin D, but you don’t want to take too much, so remember to only take vitamin D supplements as instructed. Always check with a doctor to guide you on the best way to add calcium and vitamin D supplements to your diet.
Like your muscles, your bones are living tissues that gain strength with regular exercise. Even if you already have osteoporosis, exercising can help maintain the bone mass you have because it builds and maintains the amount and thickness of your bones. But always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program – especially if you know you have low bone mass or osteoporosis.
The three best types of exercise for osteoporosis are:
Not all doctors will check your bone health, so make sure you ask. The most recent and best research regarding osteoporosis and Latinos is new, and they will appreciate that you are paying attention to health issues.
Here are some things to ask when you visit the doctor’s office (you can write these down and take them with you):
- Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for osteoporosis?
If you already have osteoporosis, ask about treatments that are right for you – this is especially important if you have any other health issues, such as smoking, or a family history of heart attacks or cancer.
Also, remember to ask your doctor about possible side effects of your treatment and what to do if they should occur.
All of the information provided by CHOF in any manner, including through this Web site, is intended solely for general information and should NOT be relied upon for any particular diagnosis treatment, or care. Decisions relating to the prevention, detection and treatment of osteoporosis should be made only after discussing the risks and benefits with your health care provider, taking into account your personal medical history, your current situation and your future health risks and concerns. CHOF strongly encourages patients and their families to consult with qualified medical professionals for treatment advice on individual cases.
Please note that at this time CHOF does not fund grant proposals.