Font Size

What Is Bone Loss (cont.)

How Is Bone Loss Detected?

The only reliable way to detect bone loss is to have a bone mineral density (BMD) test. People with strong risk factors for osteoporosis should have a BMD test. Risk factors include the following:

  • Estrogen deficiency from early menopause (age < 45 years), absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea for > 1 year), or hypogonadism (impaired gonads, which are the ovaries or testes, or impaired sex hormones, which are estrogen or testosterone)
  • Long-term corticosteroid or anticonvulsant (antiseizure) drug therapy
  • Family history of hip fracture
  • Low body mass index (BMI)
  • Chronic disorders associated with osteoporosis, such as anorexia nervosa or liver disease
  • Previous broken bones related to having weak bones
  • Loss of height (widow's hump)
  • Female sex
  • Asian or white race
  • Poor diet without enough calcium
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Regular use of large amounts of alcohol

Recommendations in the United States are that all women 65 years and older should have a BMD test. Postmenopausal women younger than 65 years who have one or more risk factors (in addition to being postmenopausal and female) should have a BMD test. Tests that are used to measure BMD include dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), quantitative computed tomography (QCT), and quantitative ultrasound (QUS). See Bone Mineral Density Tests for more information.

For More Information

National Osteoporosis Foundation

International Society for Clinical Densitometry Headquarters

National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases - National Resource Center, Osteoporosis

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


"Overview of the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2015
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to What Is Bone Loss

Bone Mineral Density Tests
Bone Mineral Density Tests Osteoporosis (or porous bone) is a disease in which bones become weak and are more likely to break. Bone mineral density tests check the strength and solidness ...learn more >>
Fall Prevention and Osteoporosis
Fall Prevention and Osteoporosis Osteoporosis (or porous bone) is a disease in which bones become less dense, resulting in weak bones that are more likely to break. Without prevention or treatm...learn more >>
Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis
Hormone Replacement and Osteoporosis Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is often used in treating the learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Bone Loss:

Bone Loss - Medications

What medications were you prescribed to prevent osteoporosis? Were they effective?

Bone Loss - Patient Experience

Do you have a condition that caused or is causing bone loss? Please describe your experience?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Osteoporosis (Secondary) »

Osteoporosis, a chronic progressive disease, is the most common metabolic bone disease in the United States.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary