Answers to Common Bone Health Questions

Premier Physician Network’s physicians answer frequently asked questions about bone health.

Why is it important for younger women to think about bone health?

When women are younger – in their teens and early 20s – they have a chance to build denser, stronger bones, according to the National Osteoporosis FoundationOff Site Icon (NOF). It’s important that young women take advantage of that opportunity because once they’re older, improving bone health is no longer possible.

Building strong bones while you’re young can help prevent osteoporosis – weakened bones – when you’re older, according to the NOF.

For more information about young women improving bone health, talk with your physician.

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What are risk factors of deteriorating bone health?

There are some risk factors of deteriorating bone health that you can change and some that you cannot change, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

According to the NIH, risk factors that you cannot change include:

  • Age – As you age, you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis – a disease in which your bones become less dense and can break more easily.
  • Body size – If you have a small build with thin bones, you are at greater risk.
  • Ethnicity – Asian and Caucasian women are at the highest risk, while African American and Hispanic women have a lower but still significant risk.
  • Family history – If your parents have a history of reduced bone mass and fractures, your risk is greater to follow in their footsteps.
  • Gender – Women have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis.

Risk factors you can change, according to the NIH, include:

  • Active lifestyle – Being inactive can weaken bones, however, overtraining to the point that you are burning far more calories than your body takes in can be harmful to your bone health.
  • Alcohol consumption – Drinking alcohol excessively can increase your risk of bone loss and fractures.
  • Anorexia nervosa – This eating disorder includes an irrational fear of weight gain and can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Calcium and vitamin D – Making sure you have a diet rich in these – especially when you are younger and can strengthen your bones – will improve bone health.
  • Cigarette smoking – Quitting is the best option because smoking is bad for your bones.
  • Medication – Using some kinds of medications including glucocorticoids and some anticonvulsants over a long period of time can lead to loss of bone density.
  • Sex hormones – An abnormal absence of menstrual periods and low estrogen levels in women can lead to osteoporosis.

Taking positive steps to improve the risk factors that you can change is your best defense against deteriorating bone health.

Talk with your doctor for more information about risk factors of deteriorating bone health.

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What are some things young women can do to take care of their bones?

Keeping bones strong is something women can do when they’re younger that will improve their health and overall quality of life as they get older.

To keep your bones strong, according to the National Osteoporosis FoundationOff Site Icon (NOF), you can:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Don’t drink alcohol in excess
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise a healthy amount; don’t over-do it because too much exercise can have a negative effect
  • Have enough calcium and vitamin D daily, between food and supplements
  • Talk to your doctor about bone health

The more effort women put into taking care of their bones when they are younger, the better of they will be when they age.

For more information about preventive steps for bone health, talk with your doctor.

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Are there symptoms of bone loss once you’re older?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which you lose bone mass and the bone tissue deteriorates, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH). This loss of bone mass leaves the bones fragile and easily broken – especially the hip, spine and wrist.

Oftentimes, osteoporosis is called a silent disease because the bone loss happens with no symptoms. People might not even know they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a slight bump or fall causes a fractures, according to the NIH.

For more information about symptoms of bone loss, talk with your doctor.

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Are there preventive screenings to identify bone loss?

A bone density test can be done to screen for osteoporosis, which causes bones to become fragile and break easily, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesOff Site Icon (HHS).

The test is recommended for women 65 or older. If you are younger than 65 and have risk factors of the disease, you should talk with your doctor about whether the test would be right for you, according to the HHS.

Some things your doctor might consider include:

  • Age
  • Alcohol use
  • Family history of broken bones
  • Height and weight
  • Medicines you use
  • Menopause
  • Other disorders or diseases
  • Smoking habit

Having this screening can help you be aware of your risk of osteoporosis and create a plan for how to prevent fractures, according to the HHS.

Talk with your doctor for more information about bone density testing and whether it is right for you.

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What is musculoskeletal ultrasound technology?

A musculoskeletal ultrasound is a type of non-invasive medical imaging test that can help health care providers diagnose and treat conditions that they might not otherwise be able to see, according to the Radiological Society of North AmericaOff Site Icon (RSNA).  

Ultrasound images are recorded in real-time, as opposed to a single image X-ray, for example. Because of this, a musculoskeletal ultrasound can show both the structure and the movement of soft tissue within the body, according to the RSNA. 

Talk to your doctor for more information about musculoskeletal ultrasound technology. 

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What types of conditions can be diagnosed with a musculoskeletal ultrasound?

Musculoskeletal ultrasounds can be used to diagnose a wide variety of conditions.

According to the Radiological Society of North AmericaOff Site Icon (RSNA), some of those conditions include:

  • Benign and malignant soft tissue tumors 
  • Early rheumatoid arthritis changes 
  • Foreign bodies in soft tissue, such as glass or splinters 
  • Ganglion cysts 
  • Inflammation or fluid in the bursae and joints 
  • Ligament sprains or tears 
  • Muscle tears or masses 
  • Nerve entrapments, such as carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • Tendon tears or tendonitis 

They also can be used to help find the exact location a joint injection should be placed, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH). 

Talk to your doctor to learn more about what a musculoskeletal ultrasound can be used to diagnose. 

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What are the benefits of musculoskeletal ultrasound for patients?

There are a variety of benefits to patients using a musculoskeletal ultrasound, according to the Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians.  

For sports medicine needs, the real-time imaging is helpful because patients can have the imaging bedside instead of having to have a separate outpatient appointment, according to PPN physicians.  

Patients can talk to their doctor during this imaging so they doctor can have a much better understanding of exactly where the pain is coming from, according to PPN physicians.  

Also with a musculoskeletal ultrasound, there’s no radiation exposure like with X-rays and MRIs, according to PPN physicians. 

It’s also cost-effective, according to PPN physicians. It’s less expensive that a lot of other advanced imaging techniques. 

Talk to your doctor for more advantages of having a musculoskeletal ultrasound. 

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Thanks to Premier Physician Network doctors for answering these common questions about bone health:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician