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Bone density screening could help prevent fractures

CHERAW, S.C. — The dangers of osteoporosis and fractures, especially of the hip, increase as women age. Yet, many women, who should be screened, are not taking advantage of this simple, painless test.

“One out of every two women will experience a fracture after her 50th birthday,” says Eric Willoughby, DNP, McLeod Orthopaedics Cheraw. “Serious fractures can be life threatening and should be taken seriously. We are fortunate to have the latest equipment and technology provided by McLeod Health available to us in Cheraw.

The Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), which is pronounced “dexa,” is a simple, quick office procedure to measure a woman’s bone density and tell if she has a bone-depleting condition.

Who should be screened?

Guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend all women aged 65 or older should have a DXA bone density test. If the test shows normal bone mass, women 65 and older should have a test every 15 years. Studies have shown that women with normal bone mass at age 65 generally will have about 15 years before they begin developing osteoporosis. If the scan reveals some bone thinning, a treatment plan can be recommended as well as a time frame for the next screening.

A number of women under age 65 should also consider having the Bone Mass Density screening. In this group are women with fragile bones or other risk factors for osteoporosis, such as:

  • Taking medications that can weaken bones (some antidepressants, corticosteroids)
  • Body weight less than 127 pounds
  • Family history of hip fracture
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism or
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Prevention Tips


Genetic factors play a significant role in determining whether an individual has an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. However, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity can also influence bone development in youth and slow down the rate of bone loss later in life. Women can help keep their bones strong by making sure their diet includes calcium rich foods as well as those containing vitamin D.  Some examples of these foods are salmon, leafy greens, and dairy products. Vitamin supplements alone are at times not enough to prevent the development of osteoporosis.

“Exposure to sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes a day is sufficient for most individuals to produce Vitamin D in the skin,” says Willoughby. “You can also add some weight-bearing exercise to your workouts, like weightlifting. Simply walking on a regular basis will help to strengthen bones, as well. I also often recommend exercises like Tai Chi and Yoga to my patients to help improve their balance.”

Eric Willoughby, DNP, has joined McLeod Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Thomas DiStefano in Cheraw, where they diagnose and treat an array of orthopedic conditions for residents of Chesterfield and Marlboro counties and surrounding areas.  For more information about bone health or how to schedule a screening, please call 843-537-0010.

Sources include: McLeod Health, US Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, National Women’s Health Network, American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Columbia University Osteoporosis Center


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