A bone density test measures the amount of calcium in your bones. It also shows how dense (or strong) your bones are, which helps doctors diagnose osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
The test usually involves an X-ray machine, and a low-dose X-ray called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. To perform a DEXA scan, you lie on a table as the machine passes over you to take pictures of your bones and other internal structures. The machine then uses computers to analyze these images for calcium levels.
Can a bone density test show arthritis?
A bone density test will not show Arthritis specifically; it will show whether or not your bones are becoming weaker. The primary goal of a bone density scan is to assess the amount of bone in your body and the rate at which it’s being replaced by new bone. This rate is too slow in the case of osteoporosis or brittle bones. That’s why people with osteoporosis are more likely to break bones when they fall or are otherwise injured.
A bone density test measures your bone mass using x-rays to determine how much calcium is contained in each square centimeter of your skeleton. This helps doctors assess how strong your bones are and whether or not they’re at risk for fracture. A low score indicates that you may be at risk for osteoporosis or other conditions like rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the joints, which leads to pain and stiffness. Psoriatic Arthritis is a type of rheumatoid Arthritis that occurs with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease.
What Information Can you Get from a Bone Density Test?
A bone density test is typically performed on the hip, forearm, wrist, fingers, heel, and spine.
The results of a bone density test are expressed as a T-score: a number that indicates how much your bone mineral density differs from normal, where normal is defined as having a T-score of -1 or higher. A score below -2.5 indicates osteoporosis, while scores between -1 and -2.5 indicate that you have osteopenia.
Doctors may order an MRI scan in addition to this test because it provides more information about your spine and hip health.
Who Needs a Bone Density Test?
If you’re under any of the following factors, you may want to consider getting a bone density test:
- People with Type 1 Diabetes
People with type 1 diabetes are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. This is because, as you know, type 1 diabetes can raise blood sugar levels and cause high insulin levels in the body. When this happens, it can cause bones to lose calcium and become more fragile over time. If you have type 1 diabetes, talk to your doctor about getting tested for bone density every two years.
- Hyperthyroidism People
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine (T4). T4 helps regulate your metabolism and can cause abnormal amounts of calcium in your blood. Because of this, people with hyperthyroidism may have an increased risk for low bone mass, osteoporosis, and fractures.
People with hyperparathyroidism have too much parathyroid hormone in their bodies. The parathyroid gland is a small structure that sits on top of your thyroid gland (in front of it). The parathyroid gland makes a parathyroid hormone, which helps regulate the amount of calcium in your blood. People with hyperparathyroidism can have weak bones and may develop kidney stones or other health problems from having too much calcium in the blood.
- Liver or kidney disease
Some people with liver disease have low vitamin D levels, which can lead to low during bone density. People with kidney failure also may have low levels of vitamin D because their kidneys cannot get rid of waste products like phosphorus and uric acid as healthy kidneys do, so these substances build up in the body and can cause bone loss over time.
Other Candidates for a Bone Density Test
- People over the age of 65
- Women who have gone through menopause or are post-menopausal
- Women under Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
- People who are taking hormone replacement therapy
- People with a family history of osteoporosis
- People on steroids and anti-convulsants
- People with chronic pain in their bones
What tests are used to diagnose Arthritis?
There are a variety of tests your doctor will use to diagnose Arthritis.
- Health questionnaires
Health questionnaires include information about any family history of Arthritis and rheumatic conditions: Your doctor may ask you to complete a health questionnaire so they can get more information on your medical history and any other factors that might affect your diagnosis. This helps them better understand how Arthritis has affected them in the past and what the best course of treatment might be for them moving forward.
- Physical exams
A physical exam can help your doctor determine whether you have signs of Arthritis, like tenderness, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Your doctor will also check for other symptoms that may indicate Arthritis, such as pain or a loss of function in your joints.
- Imaging tests
Imaging tests use X-rays or other imaging techniques to examine your bones and joints. They may help determine whether you have Arthritis, but they do not provide an exact diagnosis on their own.
- Blood tests
Blood tests are typically used to help rule out conditions that can mimic the symptoms of Arthritis and help determine if other treatments are needed for complications related to Arthritis.
This test uses sound waves to create images of the body’s internal organs and tissues. Ultrasound may be used to diagnose rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), and gout.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
This test uses magnetic waves to create detailed images of your internal organs, bones, and soft tissues. MRI effectively detects inflammation in the joints and may be used to diagnose RA, OA, or gout.
Arthroscopy is a procedure that allows doctors to view the inside of a joint using an endoscope—a thin tube with a light and camera attached at one end. Doctors use this image to see if there are any problems with the joint such as cartilage damage or bone spurs, that could lead to Arthritis later.
Does Arthritis Attack your Immune System? How to Cure it?
Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means your body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue by mistake. This means that if you can get your immune system under control, you’ll be able to prevent further damage from occurring.
To do this, you’ll want to ensure that your diet is balanced and healthy. You should also take vitamin D supplements daily (1,000 IU) and fish oil supplements (2-3 g per day). These will help keep your joints lubricated and allow them to function properly without additional pain or stiffness.
Suppose you cannot get rid of your pain using these methods alone. In that case, other medications available can help reduce inflammation in the joint area, including celecoxib (Celebrex) or diclofenac sodium (Voltaren).
While a bone density test can show you whether or not you have osteoporosis, it cannot diagnose Arthritis. It’s important to remember that Arthritis is a symptom of a larger problem—osteoarthritis.
If you suspect you have Arthritis, make sure to see your doctor for an examination. They might recommend additional tests such as blood tests or imaging scans (like x-rays).