URL of this page: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bonedensity.html

Bone Density

Also called: Bone mass 


Strong bones are important for your health. A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to measure your bone health. It can show

  • Whether you have osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones weak
  • Your risk for breaking bones
  • Your response to osteoporosis treatment

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 everyone with low bone mass is 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, bowling or dancing. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent osteoporosis.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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Reference Desk

  • What Is Bone? From the National Institutes of Health Easy-to-Read (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

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