Northwest Center for Optimal Health: Natural Medicine Specialists





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In the words
of our patients

"I healed more in three months than in the past ten years."

"The right tests showed the problem wasn't in my head."


What is Bone Density testing?
Bone Densitometry, also called DEXA, or Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry is a simple, painless scan that measures bone mass to determine if a person is at risk of having a broken bone because of osteopenia or osteoporosis (weak or porous bones). Bone Density testing allows you & your doctor to take steps to prevent you from getting a fracture if you are at risk. Most Bone Density testing is done by scanning the spine & hip since these are the bones that usually break because of osteoporosis.

Are there different kinds of Bone Density Tests?
Yes. There are “peripheral” scans (of the heel & wrist,) and there are “central” scans (of the hip & spine). Although the peripheral scans are helpful for screening, they are not as precise or accurate as the central tests, and can sometimes miss the presence of Osteopenia or Osteoporosis. Central tests are so accurate, they can detect a bone density change of as little as 1%.

Who should have a Bone Density test?
Osteoporosis affects Men & Women, and not just those of us who are older. If any of the following applies to you, you should to have a Bone Density test.

  • A personal or family history of Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.
  • Being menopausal, perimenopausal, or if you have had a hysterectomy.
  • Irregular menstrual cycles.
  • Hormonal issues like low testosterone, low estrogen, low progesterone, or an overactive parathyroid or thyroid gland.
  • Digestive problems like irritable bowel, malabsorption, Crohn’s, or Celiac disease.
  • Use of bone-depleting drugs for allergies, asthma, emphysema, arthritis, seizures or low thyroid function. Examples include: corticosteroids, inhalers, dilantin, or excessive use of thyroid hormone.
  • Regular use of antacids / acid-blocking medications that interfere with mineral absorption.
  • Lifestyle factors: not exercising regularly, or use of tobacco.
  • Being small-framed, thin, or over age 65.
  • Being of European (Caucasian) or Asian decent.
  • Excessive dieting, malnutrition, or having or having had an eating disorder.
  • History of low calcium intake or calcium-depleting (high protein) diets.
  • Regular use of alcohol, sodas, caffeine, or a high salt diet- which all interfere with calcium absorption, and can deplete minerals
How should I prepare for my Bone Density test?
No special preparation is necessary. However, you should wear comfortable clothes, and avoid pants or skirts with metal zippers or snaps. Eat, drink, and take medicines as you normally would, but do not take calcium supplements for 24 hours before your test. Make sure to let us know if you could be pregnant, or if you have had any other x-ray tests in the 48 hours before your test.

What happens during a Bone Density Test?
Getting a bone density test is simple and painless. The technician performing the scan you will talk you through the entire test. No injections, or medicines are used, and the whole test usually lasts between 5 & 10 minutes.

How do I arrange to have a bone density test?
Your doctor (or one of our doctors) must prescribe the test for you. Talk to us about your need for a bone density test.

When will I get the results for my Bone Density test?
The results of your bone density test go directly to your doctor or you after a few days. Your doctor can review the results with you.

If my test shows that I have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, what comes next?
We can speak with you about treatment options. These might include lifestyle changes, mineral supplements, and/or appropriate drug therapy. You can read articles we've writen on Osteoporosis or other health conditions by typing them in the search bar at the upper right.

When is repeat testing recommended?
Repeat testing is recommended yearly for those with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, less often if your test was normal. Talk to your us about what is right for you.

To schedule your bone density test, call 360 651 WELL.

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