X-rays usually confirm whether a person has a broken bone and where any loose bony pieces may be. Other diseases of the bone can also show up on an x-ray, such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease.
One of the first tests a healthcare professional will order is a bone mineral density (BMD) test. Results from a BMD test (usually of the hip, spine, wrist, or heel bone) can show if you have osteoporosis or weaker bones.
All women 65 years of age and older should have a BMD test to check bone strength. It is not clear whether men need a routine BMD, since men have a lower risk of osteoporosis than women do. Men need to talk to their healthcare professional about whether to get a BMD.
The FRAX® tool has been developed to predict the risk of a fracture. It offers a personalized score to predict the 10-year risk of a person having a major fracture. The tool combines your individual risk factors for fractures and your bone density scores. You may need to talk about this tool with your healthcare professional.
Your healthcare professional may order blood tests such as:
- Kidney function tests
- Thyroid and other hormone levels
- Calcium levels
- Vitamin D levels
- Other blood tests to check for certain diseases, such as celiac disease, Paget’s disease, or multiple myeloma, if any of these diseases are possible
- Additional blood tests and X-rays may also be ordered if surgery is needed
If the x-ray does not show a fracture but your healthcare provider still thinks you might have one, other imaging tests may be necessary such as:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
Last Updated December 2022