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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care
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Photo of a woman consulting with her doctor.

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?  

Many people do not know that they have osteoporosis until after they break a bone. You do not have to wait until you break a bone to be tested for osteoporosis. Your doctor can test your bones by doing a "bone-density test."

What is a bone-density test?

  • A bone-density test is a type of x-ray test that measures the thickness of your bones. The test is painless, and it only takes about 30 minutes. The most common bone-density test is called a "DXA scan."
  • The bone-density test does not say for sure if your bones will break, but it does tell you if your chances of breaking a bone might be high. Your doctor can tell you if your test results mean you have osteoporosis.

Who should have a bone-density test?

  • If you are a woman and 65 years old or older, you should have a bone-density test.*
  • If you are younger than 65 years old, you may need to be tested if you have certain risk factors. Talk with your doctor about whether or not you should be tested.*
  • Your doctor can tell you about the costs of the test and about whether your insurance will help pay for this test.

* This information is from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of health care experts who review medical evidence and make suggestions to doctors and nurses about preventing different diseases.