Bone density or bone mineral density (BMD) is the amount of mineral matter in a bone per centimetre square. The minerals that are found in the bone include Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Magnesium. When your bone mineral density is low your bones will become weak and likely to develop bone diseases such as osteomalacia and in severe cases osteoporosis.
There are several bone mineral density tests that can be used to measure the bone mineral density. These include:
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry(DEXA)
This technique uses rays beams with different energy levels that are focussed at the patient’s bones then the soft tissue absorption is subtracted out and the BMD is determined when each beam is absorbed by the bone. This technique is painless, fast and uses low radiation.
DEXA can be able to measure the bone density of the hips and spine and can measure as little as 2% of bone loss per year.
Peripheral Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (PDEXA)
This type of DEXA measures the bone density of legs and arms. The machines that perform pDEXA are portable and can be used in the doctor’s office. It is faster than DEXA but it is not able to measure the BMD of bones that are prone to fractures such as spine and the hip.
Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT)
This technique measures the bone mineral density of the spine. The peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography is able to measure the bone density of the arms and the legs.
Dual Photon Absorptiometry (DPA)
This technique uses a beam of photon that has two energy peaks. One peak will be absorbed by the soft tissue while the other one will be absorbed by the bone. The bone mineral density will be determined when the components of the tissue are subtracted from the bone. Dual Photon Absorptiometry is able to measure the bone mineral density of the hip and the spine.
Bones are important parts of the body. The bones make up the skeleton of a human being. Bones are responsible for protecting organs such as the brain, providing structure, storing Calcium, and supporting the muscles. Bones need to be taken care so that they can be able to play their functions well.
Bones are living things and are continuously changing. Old bones are replaced with new bones. When you are young, the rate of bone formation is high but declines as you reach your late 20s. Most people attain peak bone mass at the age of 30, after that the bone formation decreases* and bone remodelling continues. During this stage there rate of bone loss increases*.
Having a diet that is rich in vitamin D and Calcium, exercising and avoiding unhealthy habits such as engaging in excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking will make your bones to be strong and healthy.
Other factors that can affect your bones include:
- Certain Medications – Use of corticosteroids such as prednisone, cortisone, and prednisolone for a long period of time can put you at risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
- Race and Family History of Bone Disease – You are at high risk of getting osteoporosis if you have a family history of osteoporosis. Caucasians and Asians are at a higher risk for osteoporosis than African Americans.
- Age, Gender and Size – Older people, women and people with small body frame are at high risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Illnesses – Diseases such as Celiac’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and Cushing’s disease can cause low absorption of Calcium in the body. This can lead to brittle bones which can fracture easily.
When the bone mineral density is low, your bones become weak and prone to fractures which can cause other diseases such as osteoporosis.