As a global health problem, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis are some of the most common bone disorders which every health-conscious mind should not ignore, especially for the fact that bones and joints—like all other parts of the human body—are interlinked with tissues and constantly remodeled throughout a lifetime. During this physiological change process, bone diseases may impede normal structural development in both children and adults, leading to permanent or temporal deformity. Some of the identified causes are inadequate nutrition, hormonal imbalance, genetic disorders, infections etc.
According to 2014 findings from the Journal of Bone & Mineral Research, humans attain maximum bone mass between the age of 25 and 30. After this period, gradual loss of density or deterioration of the bone structure is noticed and some of the major risks are bone fragility and subsequent fractures. About 10.5% of Americans aged 50 and above have high risks of osteoporosis whereas more than 44% are diagnosed of low bone density every year.
Unfortunately, osteoporosis in individuals are often discovered only after sufferers (male or female) sustain “mostly avoidable” accidents like bone fractures.
During my recent visit to Divine Medical Center, a Lagos-based specialist hospital renowned for its patient-oriented diagnosis and treatment plans, including high-rated healthcare services in urology, cardiac, gynaecology and a variety of acute medicine offered with top-notch technology, I found that, apart from these unrivaled attractions, professionalism, empathy and integrity of the multi-disciplinary medical staff on ground, their level of technological advancement and use of ICT is a standout feature. Moreover, their DEXA Scan services—a sophisticated, accurate and easy-to-use machine which calculates bone mass, body fat and muscles in a human body—changed my guest status and understanding of bone health within few minutes.
DEXA is an acronym for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. DEXA Scans are therefore most useful as a precautionary measure against adults who have high risks of suffering bone fractures. In other words, the health service offers preventive solutions which may include exercises and proper dieting in line with valid results obtained by specialists in the field.
Although medicines like bisphosphonates have proven efficacy for preserving bone mass in osteoporosis patients, a 5-minute scan at the Ikoyi-based hospital provided immediately accessible results which were not only encouraging but worth recommending for adults and anyone above 30 years old.
A DEXA Scan at the hospital examined my obesity level and body composition for sport, including hypertension and insulin resistance, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes (Type I & II), metabolic syndrome and cancer. It is also useful in Intestinal Bypass Surgery; Muscle loss during or after surgeries; Muscular Dystrophy; Liver disease caused by non-alcoholic factors; Eating disorder and low body weight etc.
Interestingly, I learned that there are some do’s and don’ts with DEXA Scans—they are totally unsafe for pregnant women but breastfeeding mothers have no risks at all. Those below 18 are not fit for the screening. To avoid negative side effects, only a maximum of 8 check-ups within 8 months or a total of 4 DEXA Scans in a year is allowed. Potential users with concerns for radiation need to know that the machines produce minimal level of wave which is comparable to a day’s exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Rays or nearly one-tenth of waves from a normal chest x-ray. Anyone who cannot stay completely still within 7 minutes, specifically during scanning, is not fit for the health service which also identifies “Post-menopausal,” a kind of bone disease caused by lack of estrogen, which is essential for bone formation in women.
Health professionals recommend once-a-year check-ups but individuals with focus on maintaining proper bone mass or undergoing high-impact changes in their body makeup through adequate exercise or diet plans may need DEXA Scans every 3 months (minimum) or 6 months (maximum). Women aged 65 and above need regular screenings, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
DEXA Scans are affordable and readily available in many hospitals around the world.