You can learn if you have osteoporosis by having a simple test that measures bone mineral density—sometimes called BMD. BMD, the amount of bone you have in a given area, is measured at different parts of your body. Often the measurements are at your spine and your hip, including a part of the hip called the femoral neck, at the top of the thighbone (femur). Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (referred to as DXA or DEXA) is the best current test to measure BMD.
The test is quick and painless. It is similar to an X-ray, but uses much less radiation. Even so, pregnant women should not have this test, to avoid any risk of harming the fetus. DXA test results are scored compared with the BMD of young, healthy people. These results in a measure called a T-score. The scoring is as follows:
|DXA T-score||Bone mineral density (BMD)|
|Not lower than –1.0||Normal|
|Between –1.0 and –2.5||Osteopenia (mild BMD loss)|
|–2.5 or lower||Osteoporosis|
The risk of fracture most often is lower in people with osteopenia than those with osteoporosis. But, if bone loss continues, the risk of fracture increases.