When should you get a bone density test? Women should get a bone density test at age 65 OR any time their risk of fracture is over 10% per year. How do you know your fracture risk? There is an app you can use on the iTunes store or look up FRAX score online and do the quiz. The FRAX® assessment includes questions about:
family history of hip fracture
glucocorticoid use (e.g., Prednisone)
femoral neck bone mineral density (BMD; femoral neck BMD measures the part of the thigh bone that connects to the hip joint)
New guidelines for repeat DEXA testing are if your results are normal or show mild osteopenia (bone thinning), then you can wait 15 years to retest. If you are moderately osteopenic, then you retest in 5 years, and if you are severe, then you should get tested every year until you start treatment.
If you do start treatment, the best data we have is for bisphosphanates (they come in pill or IV form). Once you start on them, you don’t need to keep doing the DEXA scan. Once you have taken this medication for 5 years, you can stop taking it. It keeps working on your bones for years afterwards. They now recommend only restarting it if you do end up having a fracture at some point after that.
So, if you have been on this type of medication for osteoporosis for more than 5 years, see your doctor or talk to me at Whole Family Medical Care about stopping it! They are finding that taking it for a long time (more than 5 years) might lead to weird fractures of bones that normally don’t fracture at all.