When you have osteoporosis, your bones become weak and are more likely to break. You can have osteoporosis without any symptoms. Because it can be prevented and treated, early diagnosis is important. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for osteoporosis in women ages 65 or older and in younger women with fracture risk equal to or greater than that of a 65-year-old woman. (Younger women can be at greater risk due to family history, having certain medical conditions or taking certain medications regularly.) You can find out whether you have osteoporosis, or if you should be concerned about your bones, by getting a bone-density test. This test uses a machine that estimates the amount of bone in your hip, spine and sometimes other bones. This is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis. A bone-density test can help you and your doctor:

■  Learn if you have weak bones or osteoporosis before you break a bone

Predict your chance of breaking a bone in the future

■  See if your bone density is improving, getting worse or staying the same

■  Find out how well an osteoporosis medicine is working

■  Let you know if you have osteoporosis after you break a bone

— Sources: National Osteoporosis Foundation; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force


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