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5 Lifestyle Steps for Better Bone Health

Maximize bone health and reduce the effects of osteoporosis with these simple steps.

Bone Health Step 4: Talk to Your Doctor

Many factors affect bone strength. Use of certain medications to treat chronic diseases, for example, is an often-overlooked risk factor for developing osteoporosis. Also, certain medications may cause dizziness, light-headedness, or loss of balance -- which could put you at risk for a fall.

Your doctor can explain your own risk -- as well as options for preventing and treating bone loss.

These are questions you might ask your doctor:

  • How can I best improve my bone health?
  • What is the best calcium to take?
  • What medication can help me?
  • Has this medication been proven to lower risk of fractures of spine and hip?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Do I need special instructions for taking my bone medication?
  • Will the medications affect other drugs that I'm taking for other conditions?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • How soon will I see a change?
  • How long will I take this medication?
  • Am I taking any medications that put me at risk for a fall?
  • What exercise is safest for me?
  • Are there exercises I should not do?
  • How can I know if I've fractured a bone in my spine?
  • How soon should I schedule my next appointment?
  • What should I do to prevent falls?

Bone Health Step 5: Bone Density Testing

A bone mineral density test (BMD) is the only way to determine the extent of your bone loss. The gold-standard bone density test is dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), says Diemer. "It's a low-radiation test and is the most accurate bone test we have."

Your doctor will determine how frequently you should have a bone density test. If you're taking osteoporosis medications -- or have certain risk factors -- you may need a test every six months.  Before having the test, check with your insurance company. Some will only cover bone density tests every two years.

"Usually we can get insurance companies to agree to cover yearly tests, at least for the first year after treatment starts," Diemer tells WebMD. "If the physician says it needs to be done, they usually will pay. But you may need to be persistent in getting it covered."

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Reviewed on April 27, 2009
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Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

How do you exercise for strong bones?