Screening for osteoporosis begins with a physical exam and a personal / family medical history. In older people, a broken bone with no apparent cause, a stooped posture or significant back pain may indicate the possibility of the disease.
The primary test for diagnosing osteoporosis is bone densitometry, also used as a test for osteopenia, low bone mass preceding osteoporosis. This bone density test measures the mass of the bone in relation to its volume. The bone mineral density (BMD) is determined and compared to the BMD in healthy young adults, called T-score, and people in the patient’s age group, called Z-score. The World Health Organization defines bone density on a T-score scale of +1.0 to -4.0, with a rating of -1 to -2.5 showing low bone mass, and -2.5 or below indicating osteoporosis. The results help doctors develop the best treatment strategy, with early intervention offering the best chance of preventing fractures.
Other tests for osteoporosis may include skeletal X-rays that can show fractures in the spine and hip, and blood tests to measure levels of calcium, vitamin D, and thyroid to name a few