GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– Nearly one in five women and one in twenty men, over the age of 50, are affected by osteoporosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis we spoke with a rheumatologist bout a scan to detect thinning of your bones and who should get one.

Osteoporosis, or thinning of your bones, increases the risk of broken bones and can have serious effects in older adults.

Dr. Archana Srinivas, a rheumatologist, says sometimes underlying medical conditions are to blame.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is one of those various hormonal issues like thyroid conditions, parathyroid issues, and diabetes, for example. Malabsorptive issues in the stomach can also put patients at higher risk– Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease,” said Dr. Srinivas.

If you have any of these medical conditions or a previous fracture, a bone density scan may be recommended by your doctor.

In fact, your age alone may make you eligible for one.

“All women over the age of 65 are eligible to have that screening tests done. Then, men over the age of 70, as well. It would also be recommended any adult who’s ever had a fracture, over the age of 50, recieve one.”

Dr. Archana Srinivas, Rheumatologist, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

Dr. Srinivas says a bone density scan is a simple x-ray. It takes minutes. It’s painless. And you don’t have to undress for it.

“There’s a trained technologist who helps the machine’s movable arm pass over the body. After a few minutes, the machine is able to make some pretty sophisticated calculations, and then tell us how strong your bones are,” said Dr. Srinivas.

If the outcome of the scan shows low bone density, doctors will take risk factors, age, height, and weight into consideration before making an osteoporosis diagnosis.

Then, treatment can be medication taken orally, through I.V. infusions or injections into muscles.

“We have two types of medications that can be used. One of the types of medications will actually build bone back. Then, the second type of medication will actually slow the rate of decline in the bone density.”

Dr. Archana Srinivas, Rheumatologist, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

How frequently you should have a bone density scan depends on your age, previous bone density results, and whether you are already being treated for osteoporosis.

Most health coverage plans will pay for testing every two years.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.