Making a Diagnosis

People can have osteoporosis without any signs or symptoms. When you have osteoporosis, your bones become weak and are more likely to break. Because it is a disease that can be prevented and treated, an early diagnosis can make a difference. At any age, it is never too late to take steps to protect your bones and prevent fractures (broken bones).

You can find out whether you have osteoporosis or if you should be concerned about your bones by getting a bone mineral density (BMD) test. A BMD test uses a special machine to measure bone density. Some people also call it a bone mass measurement test. This test lets you know the amount of bone mineral you have in a certain area of bone. Bone density testing can be done on different bones of your body, including your hip, spine, forearm (between the wrist and elbow), wrist, finger or heel. A BMD test is safe and painless, and it provides important information about your bone health. Your healthcare provider uses this information to make recommendations to help you protect your bones.

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, your healthcare provider may order laboratory and other tests. These tests can help your healthcare provider find out if you have another medical condition causing bone loss.

A medical evaluation to diagnose osteoporosis and estimate your risk of breaking a bone may involve one or more of the following steps:

Other tests that may be used to evaluate bone health but are not used to diagnose osteoporosis include biochemical marker tests, x-rays, vertebral fracture assessments (VFAs), and bone scans.

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