Bones are growing, living tissue that your body is continually building and breaking down. They’re made of protein (collagen) and minerals (calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate), which makes them both strong and flexible. Your bones also store minerals you need, especially calcium — nearly all your body's calcium is stored in your bones and teeth.
When your body breaks down more bone tissue than it builds, it’s called bone loss. This can lead to low bone density (osteopenia) and may progress to osteoporosis, which causes weakened, brittle bones that are more likely to break.
Low bone density can run in families, and it can also be caused by:
- Aging: your body doesn't store as much calcium and phosphate in your bones
- Diet: if you don't get enough high-calcium foods or your body doesn't absorb or retain enough calcium
- Lifestyle habits: such as smoking, too much alcohol, and lack of weight-bearing exercise
- Low body weight: linked to weaker bones and lower bone mass
- Medical conditions: such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, or an overactive parathyroid gland
- Medicines: including some hormone therapies for cancer treatment, seizure medicines, or long-term steroid treatments
- Nutritional deficiencies: such as lack of calcium or vitamin D, or conditions or treatments that prevent your body from absorbing calcium or vitamin D properly
University of Miami Healthy System bone density and osteoporosis specialists provide comprehensive care to minimize bone loss and prevent broken bones. You get personalized attention and a customized care plan based on your lifestyle. We combine lifestyle changes, diet, and the latest treatments to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Bone Density Scan (Bone Densitometry)
Also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), this painless, noninvasive test uses a very small amount of radiation to create pictures of your bones, typically in your wrist, lower spine, and hips. This test allows your doctor to determine your risk for broken bones, as well as diagnose osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Doctors use a variety of medicines to prevent and treat bone loss, including bisphosphonates and hormone replacement therapy. These medicines help restore a healthy hormone balance.
Your body needs calcium for strong bones, as well as vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. Dairy and soy foods, green leafy vegetables, and cold-water fish like salmon and sardines are good sources of calcium. You can get vitamin D from fortified dairy products, egg yolks, and saltwater fish, as well as sunlight. Your doctor may also recommend calcium and vitamin D dietary supplements.
Weight-bearing exercise that involves walking, dancing, hiking, or running works best to prevent bone loss. Resistance exercise, such as lifting weights, can also help improve bone health. Our physical therapists can help you improve muscle strength, balance, and flexibility to prevent falls and protect bone health.
Why Choose UHealth?
Customized treatment plans for bone loss. Bone loss occurs for many reasons, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to protect your bones. Our expert team learns about your lifestyle and what’s important to you to design a treatment plan that gives you the best possible results.
A comprehensive, team approach. Our doctors work closely with orthopaedic experts, imaging technologists, dietitians, physical therapists, and other specialists to provide complete care. Your care team works together to evaluate your bone health and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that minimizes bone loss.
The latest, research-backed treatments. As an academic medical center, we leverage the latest research completed by the nationally recognized University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to offer the latest treatments — including promising new treatments through clinical trials. You benefit from medical advancements before they’re widely available, provided by leading endocrinology experts who are known worldwide for their expertise. Our researchers are discovering better ways to diagnose and treat bone loss and osteoporosis.