Scan for bone density - osteoporosis: Just to let you... - NRAS


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Scan for bone density - osteoporosis

cathie profile image
17 Replies

Just to let you know that I've just had a scan for this. I dont know whether this is because of blood tests or because people with RA may be more susceptible to it (which is the case apparently).. ANyway on the lines of what I said in Tilda's blog I tend to take what's offered and have just come back from having the scan. They just make you lie down on a bench and this thing which sounds like a photocopier whirrs for a few minutes. you have to stay still - which isnt easy! I had to fill in a questionnaire about what I eat - how much milk,. eggs, cheese in particular. Anyway that's now done and I await the results. But just thought you might like to know that this is on offer. At least here it is. Better than having brittle bones as you can do things to prevent it.

17 Replies
helixhelix profile image

I was offered one automatically when I hit 50....maybe depends on the health authority and what they decide to do re preventative medicine? But as you say quick and painless, so no reason not to accept. And my bones were fine, which is even better! Px

cathie profile image

Great - we've got so much going on, but it is worth having isnt it.

watson3 profile image

Had one 10years ago when I had Ca. Not been offered one since.

Will ask about it. Thanks.

earthwitch profile image
earthwitch in reply to watson3

That may not have been a bone density scan - with cancer, the bone scans are often whole body nuclear bone scans to show up "hot spots" where there are bone secondaries. A DEXA bone density scan measures how solid your bones are, and usually only does a couple of points - one area of spine, and a hip are standard, though some research projects will take an image of the whole spine or do both hips.

fastball profile image
fastball in reply to watson3

i was told to have every five or so yrs because on steroids and kept forgetting to take cal-d tablets. When i came off the steroids i had one to see if i could stop the tablets. Mine was medium and could stop the tablets,

cathie profile image

I assume that as time goes on, your bones might change, so its worth it really.


earthwitch profile image
earthwitch in reply to cathie

I've known someone go from "normal" to pretty bad osteoporosis in two years - so yes, it can change quite quickly, and not just due to age.

Sailaway profile image

I think you mentioned before that you signed up with the research nurse at WGH? That's why you got the DEXA scan, it's all part of that research & tissue collection. That's part of the reason I thought it was worth signing up for too - always good to know what's going on.

How long did you have to lie down still for? And whereabouts do you go - is it the same place they do the chest xrays?

cathie profile image

Its in the research physics part of the outpatients building on the second floor. Rather a deserted bit! I think I was in for about 15 mins, luckily there wasnt anyone before me, though quite a few when I came out. Incidentally they've put in checkout things in the carpark and you have to collect and give in a card. It feels as though they might be going to charge for parking...

Sailaway profile image
Sailaway in reply to cathie

Thanks Cathie, I'm glad it's in a part of the hospital I know! It's such a jumble of buildings in there.

The parking thing's interesting. They're not allowed to charge at the moment, but it seems like an unnecessary expense to go to. Wierd. My husband usually takes me in, then goes and sits in Macdonalds to make use of the free wifi!

I hope your results are good.

sylvi profile image

I had dexa scan done last year i think. My bones are ok. My surgery have put me on for my bones and i take one twice a day to keep my bones strong. xxxx

cathie profile image

Reply to Sailaway - I didnt know there was a Macdonalds - but I usually get out of there as quickly as I can! Keep well XX

earthwitch profile image

Definitely depends on the health authority, and its not always automatic. There are some criteria that will often get you on the list for one - a family history of severe osteoporosis, a long(ish) history of steroid taking, and sometimes things like coeliac disease (because of the malabsorption problems that can go with that). I had a DEXA scan done in another country at the time I got my coeliac diagnosis (surprisingly it showed very good bone density in spite of years of problems) and was meant to have a follow up one a few years later. It actually took an additional 5 years before I got to the point of being eligible for an NHS one, and it has shown that my bone density is now in the concerning area (hip just into the osteopenia region, though spine still just in the normal range) so I am down to have a follow up in two years again.

Best things to do to keep bone density good are maintaining a good calcium intake (far more than most people actually do), and even better, resistance (weightbearing) exercise - a physio can advise or you can search online for good things to do. Walking is one of the best and easiest things but if you can't do that easily there are other ways to do resistance exercise (using those stretchy band things)

I'm really hoping I don't have to take supplements - the biphosphonate drugs are the common ones, but they are also very scary drugs and don't always contribute to reducing the risk of fractures (can increase bone density but also make bones very brittle so they break easier), so its always best to try and avoid problems that fix them when its too late. If I had to take anything though, I'd insist on strontium - much more effective and much better safety profile.

dexa should be offered on prolonged steroid use even under 50 too x

oldtimer profile image

I couldn't see the point of having a dexa scan when I was already on bi-phosphonates, calcium and Vit D - but my doctor said it was something that she needed to tick off that I had done and that if it still showed loss of bone, I could have infusion treatment for bone strengthening instead.

So I agreed. It took 3 years on the waiting list! Then it turned out that despite the steroids and the RA, I had above average bone density - so have been able to come off the bone protection. Hurray - fewer tablets!

All that exercise is worth it!

tiger profile image

Due to family history of osteoporosis I had a scan and was found to have it and was started on a bio-phosphonate. After a year on treatment, I had another scan and the osteoporosis had improved in its severity. I get no side effects with the medication but you have to take them on an empty stomach and not eat or drink anything, or lie down for an hour after which can be a bit of a pain. still it does the trick! Wendy x

mistymeana profile image

I've got one at the end of the month as I found out recently that I've mysteriously shrunk by two inches!

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