Should people with R/A have Bone Density Tests? - NRAS


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Should people with R/A have Bone Density Tests?


I hope everyone is feeling alright just now and not suffering too much. I don't know what made me think of this today but i thought i would ask and see if anyone knows if we should be having regular bone density tests done for osteoporosis. I remember on my first visit to rheumatology years ago they sent me for one and it was fine back then but i remember them saying we will do another test in about 5 years, well that was over 12 years ago and they have never mentioned it again and i keep forgetting to ask as there has always been other things to discuss when i go and it goes out my mind so i thought perhaps someone on here would know and it would be interesting to see how often others get this test done. xx

16 Replies

I think if you constantly have low vitamin d deficiency then yes you get sent for regular tests, I had my first about four years ago and was told I have osteopenia, and my doctor mentioned last week when my vit d test come back deficient again that I will be due for another dexa scan soon, so have to wait and see

ladydog in reply to Hidden

I've had 2 scans in four years as I also suffer with osteoarthritis in knees and hip joints.

I don't know if i have ever been tested for Vitamin D Deficiency, I must ask when i go for my blood test next week to the nurse. Thank you for your reply. x


I have had two scans in four years

I had a DEXA scan a few years ago, but that was a routine one because of my age as my health trust scans everyone over 50. Since it was fine I'm not due to have another one for a long time as I don't have particular risk factors. I don't think it's the RA that poses an extra risk, but only if you take a lot of steroids. Polly

I have had a dexa scan,but i have been put on ad-cal because of my ra/fibro so though unless i break any bones then i will get another

I had a bone density scan eventually (waiting list two years) because of being on oral steroids for the RA. It showed that I have above average bone density for my age -all that weight bearing exercise is working! So I was able to come off the Vit D + Calcium and the aledronate.

It is "intended" that I should have another bone density scan -but when seems to be subject to some disagreement - so I'll wait and see what happens for a couple of years.

My rheum as I'd there was no need when I asked him, I asked cos I take a lot of steroids and had an early hysterectomy, but no !

Thanks for all your replies. I have had loads of steroid injections so perhaps i should ask to get vit D levels checked. xx


I have had to DEXA scans one in 2000, and another in 2011. These were taken as I have oesoporosis running on the maternal side of family, mum, grandma, and great grandma. They are keeping an eye on it, one of reasons I am still taking HRT after all these years as it slows the process. I am also taking Vit D as I was extremely low in that.

Hello Mille

I have steroid induced osteoporosis (with other contributory factors I suspect) and it was diagnosed after I pushed for a DEXA scan. My understanding is that it is oral steroids which increase the osteoporosis risk - I have certainly been told that infused steroids don't carry the same risks and maybe the same is true of the injections. I did have to push for the scan - the docs were happy to just to prescribe the osteoporosis meds "in case" based on an assessment of my risk factors, but I'm glad I got it checked out. Based on my experience, the best person to ask for referral for a DEXA is the rheumatologist rather than the GP because I understand there are quite strict NHS guidelines these days about who "qualifies" for the scans. Frequency of scans seems to vary but my understanding is that whilst they can give a reasonable indication of bone density and indicate a trend (upwards or downwards), because there is a recognised "error margin" with the scans, scanning too often might give a false picture.

I hope if you do have a scan it doesn't show osteoporosis. But If it does, I know that there are some effective treatements available these days.


Thanks Tilly, I thought it was something that we got done regularly but it doesn't seem to be the case by everyones answers. I hope you are keeping well. Take care xx

I had my first Dexa scan this morning as requested by my GP,he was surprised that my rheumy hadn't done this already.

In this area it's much quicker if a gp requests a SCAN or MRI ,cuts the waiting time by half in my experience.

I asked gp for a vit D test and that came back as deficient so on 2 adcal a day after a 3 month 'loading dose' from the hospital.The vit d test is expensive so my gp wrote the reasons why it was being done on the form to make sure the lab did it !!

Beth :)

Thanks Beth, That interesting, i didn't realise a vit D test would be expensive. I hope your scan is alright x

I had a bone density scan five years after being diagnosed with RA then ten years after i have just had one last month as I have had such a lot of steroid injections and my rheumy wanted to see if I had got osteoporosis. Fortunately I have not.

Thanks for your reply. It has been 12 years since i had one and i have had a lot of steroid injections so i will ask about it when i am next there. Glad to hear yours was alright. x

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