Strong bones are important for your health. A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to measure your bone health. It compares your bone density, or mass, to that of a healthy person who is the same age and sex as you are. It can show:
- Whether you have osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones weak
- Your risk for breaking bones
- Whether your osteoporosis treatment is working
Low bone mass that is not low enough to be osteoporosis is sometimes called osteopenia. Causes of low bone mass include family history, not developing good bone mass when you are young, and certain conditions or medicines. Not everyone who has low bone mass gets osteoporosis, but they are at higher risk for getting it.
If you have low bone mass, there are things you can do to help slow down bone loss. These include eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and doing weight-bearing exercise such as walking, tennis, or dancing. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent osteoporosis.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
- Bone Mass Measurement: What the Numbers Mean (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in Spanish
- Food and Your Bones -- Osteoporosis Nutrition Guidelines (Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation)
- Low Bone Density (Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation)
- Osteopenia (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
Diagnosis and Tests
- Bone Density Scan (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Bone-Density Tests: When You Need a Test and When You Don't (ABIM Foundation)
- Camurati-Engelmann disease: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Genetics of Bone Density (National Institutes of Health)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Bone Density (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Executive summary clinical practice guideline of postmenopausal, glucocortcioid-induced and male osteoporosis...
- Article: The Short-Term Effect of Prunes in Improving Bone in Men.
- Article: Effect of maternal prenatal and postpartum vitamin D supplementation on offspring...
- Bone Density -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish
- National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)