Hello March! Here we are, smiling at the sun, breathing in the crisp air, and beginning to plan our summer adventures. We all have things that we are excited for!
When that beautiful sunshine starts beating down on the snow and sidewalks we need to keep and eye out for ice. We are no strangers to it. I have run out of fingers and toes trying to keep track of how many times I’ve slipped this year. It brings up an important subject! Falling from ice is more common than we’d think and these types of falls can change our lives forever. While most of the younger population has strong bones that can withstand the stress of a fall, some of us that are a little wiser need to be more cautious.
Osteoporosis is a fairly common condition where our bones become brittle and fragile. Loss of tissue, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D and hormonal changes can cause changes in our bone health. When our bones become brittle and fragile, falling can cause some serious injuries. This is a common reason for fractured hips, wrists and back injuries. When it’s not keeping our drinks cold, ice is our enemy!
Many people that have osteoporosis, don’t know until they break a bone. If our bones become weaker, how else would we know unless we suffer an injury? Since osteoporosis is more common in women, it has been suggested to screen for it. One way we screen for this is by doing a bone density scan. These are often paired with screening mammograms that women over the age of 50 sometimes get annually. By getting the density of your bones evaluated you can be ahead of the game.
A bone density scan might not be something you have heard of before. There are many ways that we can evaluate the density of a bone. Two common machines are a DEXA machine, and a CT scanner with QCT software. Both options use low doses of radiation and are completed in a matter of minutes. The dose of the study does not need to be high because these images have one purpose, and that’s to discover the density of bone! They are not evaluating vessels or muscles, or ligaments. The goal is to use low radiation dose, acquire the information we need, and get our patient off the table. Once the scan is complete usually the patient can leave, and then the technologist finishes up the exam, inputs data and acquires a graph with the results. The results are then submitted to a radiologist to read and then sent to the ordering provider.
At Valley Imaging Center, we use our CT scanner and the additional software to provide this study for our patients’. The results are completed in under 24 hours and then we are on the way to learning about how you stack up on the bone density chart! If your bone density is low, and you are at risk for bone injuries it is helpful to know ahead of time.
Your primary care physician can help come up with a treatment plan, supplements or certain exercise to combat injury! When we keep our muscles strong, we help support our bones! Core strength and balance play a large role when we are up against the challenge of staying steady on the ice.
So be extra careful this spring. It is a beautiful time of year that can be full of fun and sunshine. It would be an inconvenience to the summer to have persevered all winter just to fall in the spring! Be conscious of the slippery ground and if appropriate for your age and care, come stop by and get a bone density scan done. Enjoy our longer days and don’t let osteoporosis catch you by surprise!
Written by Kayla Binggeli
For more information about osteoporosis, risk factors, and education please visit this article at John Hopkins Medicine.
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