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Doc, my bones crack. Do I have osteoporosis?

Are thin bones noisy bones?

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Dear doctor, 

I’m 65 years old and feel like I’m pretty healthy. I walk with friends about three times a week. Sometimes we carry small weights for extra exercise.

Lately, I’ve heard loud, cracking noises in my bones. Does this mean I have osteoporosis? Should I stop walking or carrying the weights when I walk?

Thanks for your advice,

Helen

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Get a bone density scan

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Make an appointment now. 

Find care in your state 

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Dear Helen,

It’s great to hear you’re active and you spend time with friends. That's good for your physical and mental health.

You’ve asked some good questions. Let me help.

The cracking sounds you’re hearing are most likely not your bones. It could be arthritis or swelling of your knees or ankles.

But you’re wise to ask about osteoporosis. You didn’t mention if you’ve had a bone density scan.

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Let me share some information:

  • What are your chances of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis? It's about the same as your chances of getting breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined.   
  • Bone loss in women begins at about age 30. It speeds up after menopause. Women over the age of 50 have the greatest chance of getting osteoporosis.
  • You may not see signs of osteoporosis until there is critical bone loss.
  • All women ages 65 and older should get a bone density test (scan). This is an X-ray that measures bone loss at your hips and spine. It’s painless and only takes 10‒15 minutes. 

Keep up your healthy lifestyle, Helen. Walking and small weights are both good for the bones. 

Also, see about getting a bone density scan. You’re at the perfect age to get one. Medicare covers it once every two years.

Stay healthy and stay strong, 

Joshua Jacobs, MD, FAAFP
National Medical Director, Provider Intelligence
Clinical Performance, Optum Care 

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Will Medicare cover bone mass measurement?

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Medicare says: “Medicare covers this test once every 24 months (or more often) in certain cases. If the doctor accepts Medicare, you pay nothing for this test.” 

Learn more

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.