Diagnosis of osteoporosis

Currently, the most reliable way to diagnose osteoporosis is to measure bone density with a dual-energy absorptiometry scan or DXA. A DXA scan is a short, painless scan that measures the density of your bones, usually at the hip and spine and, in some cases, the forearm. 
You can qualify for a Medicare rebate for a DXA scan if you: 

  • have previously been diagnosed with osteoporosis
  • have had one or more fractures due to osteoporosis
  • are aged 70 years or over 
  • have a chronic condition, including rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease or liver disease
  • have used corticosteroids for a long time.

Your primary care provider will be able to tell you whether you fit the criteria to receive a Medicare rebate. It is possible to have a DXA scan performed if you do not fit the criteria for the Medicare rebate, however, there will usually be an out-of-pocket cost associated with the scan.

When to treat osteoporosis

If you have osteoporosis, it is never too late to seek treatment, as age is one of the main risk factors for osteoporosis and breaks. Treatment can halt bone loss and significantly reduce the risk of fractures.
It is important that your primary care provider excludes other medical conditions that can cause osteoporosis, including vitamin D deficiency.

Treatment for osteoporosis

There is no standard treatment for osteoporosis. Your treatment will depend on your specific needs. Generally, your overall risk of fracture will help your primary care provider to decide on the best course of treatment for you.