Bone Density Screening Set For Punxsutawney

April 12, 2016

PUNXSUTAWNEY - Penn Highlands Healthcare is hosting a free bone health screening from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, at the Punxsutawney Community Medical Building, 551 W. Mahoning St., Punxy Plaza, Punxsutawney.

The bone health screening includes a bone mineral density test to measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are in an area of bone. This test helps health care providers detect osteoporosis and predict a risk of bone fractures.

This screening, along with the Spirit of Women community program called “No Bones About It,” are efforts of the Women’s Health Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare as they strive to spread awareness about osteoporosis. It is important to understand, however, osteoporosis isn’t just a “women’s disease.” More and more men are suffering from it, too.

What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease marked by reduced bone strength leading to an increased risk of fractures or broken bones.
Bone strength has two main features - bone mass, or the amount of bone, and bone quality.

Although there is a lot of information about osteoporosis, many people don’t realize they are at risk.

Osteoporosis is often known as the silent disease because it gradually weakens bones. Fractures occur most often in bones of the hip, spine and wrist, but any bone can be affected. Some fractures can be permanently disabling, especially when they occur in the hip. Statistics show that more than 1.5 million fractures each year are due to osteoporosis. In fact, 60 percent of adults age 50 and older are at risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture.

It is also known as the silent disease because sufferers may feel no pain and see no symptoms. Bones affected by osteoporosis may become so fragile that fractures occur spontaneously or as the result of minor bumps, falls or normal stresses and strains such as bending, lifting or coughing.

Osteoporosis takes a toll in terms of reduced quality of life for many people who suffer fractures. It can also affect the lives of family members and friends who serve as caregivers.

Society most often associates osteoporosis with elderly women, but this disease actually develops much earlier. It accelerates for women when they reach menopause - generally ages 40-50 – but it affects men as they age, too.
When is the right time to pay attention to one’s bones? Now!

From birth until age 30, the body builds new bone faster than old bone disappears. During these years, it is the “peak” for bone mass. Bones are at the maximum thickness they will ever be.

By age 19 and 20, girls and boys reach 90 percent of their peak, according to the National Institutes of Health. This is why building up bones is so important to young people.

To build up bones, the body needs physical activity that is weight-bearing, such as walking, running, dancing and golfing, and it needs the right amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

Are there risk factors for osteoporosis? Yes.

There are some factors you cannot control. They are:
• Sex – risk is higher if you are a woman;
• Age – risk is higher the older you are;
• Body size – slender, thin-boned women are at greater risk, as are taller women;
• Family history – strong genetic link, especially first degree relative.

But there are some you can control:
• Inadequate exercise or physical activity;
• Tobacco use;
• Estrogen deficiency;
• Low calcium intake;
• Alcoholism;
• Use of bone-robbing prescription medicines.

“Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are ways to prevent or stop osteoporosis, and with treatment, possibly improve or reverse the effects.” Connie Cribbs, Women’s Imaging manager at Penn Highlands DuBois, said.

“Bone density screening is done using a bone sonometer which uses ultrasound to measure the bone density of the heel. The scan is painless and at this screening there is no cost,” she said.

If you are interested in learning more about osteoporosis, “No Bones About It” is an educational program available for presentations at small groups within communities. The Women’s Health Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare also works throughout the year in collaboration with the Penn State Extension to bring “Strong Women” - a 12-week bone-strengthening exercise program to various communities.

For more information about this screening or about the “No Bones About It” or Strong Women programs, contact Lori Rancik, RN, at 814-371-9666. Screenings will be held monthly at this location throughout 2016.