Bone Bits: Bone Health Labs

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When a person has an unexpected bone fracture or has an abnormal Bone Density (DEXA) scan, the next step in assessing their bone health is to obtain some blood tests. The goals with testing are to determine whether a person has osteoporosis, has low bone mass, is menopausal or hormone-deficient, and/or has an underlying condition that may be causing increased bone loss.

Blood tests that may be ordered include:

  • Calcium levels – a primary mineral needed to build bones, this test is usually normal in osteoporosis but may be elevated with other bone diseases.
  • Phosphorus and Magnesium – a few other “building block” minerals needed to build bones. Phosphorus is commonly found in many foods while some people may need a supplement for magnesium if they are low.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D acts like a “taxi” to calcium, it helps absorb calcium from the intestines so that it can get to the bones for building.
  • Thyroid tests – such as T4 and TSH to screen for thyroid disease, an elevated thyroid hormone or taking too much synthetic thyroid hormone can increase bone loss.
  • Parathyroid hormone (PTH) – to check for hyperparathyroidism, which can cause osteoporosis
  • Testosterone – to check for deficiency in men
  • Protein electrophoresis – to identify abnormal proteins produced by a certain type of cancer (called multiple myeloma) that can break down bone
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) – to test for increased levels that may point to a problem with the bones
  • Kidney labs – the kidney needs to be functioning well for certain osteoporosis medications to work and people with abnormal kidney labs have increased risk of bone loss as well.

If you have risk factors for osteoporosis or concerns over your bone health, ask your doctor or health care provider about a referral to see Bone Health Specialist DeeAnna Kenny, P.A.-C., at MidMichigan Health’s Bone Health Clinic. For more information, call the Clinic at (989) 837-9192.

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