Topic Overview

If you or your doctor thinks you may be at risk for osteoporosis, you may have a screening test to check your bone thickness. A screening test may be advisable if you have:

  • A fracture in a minor injury that may have been caused by osteoporosis.
  • Another medical condition that is known to cause bone thinning.
  • Risk factors for, or symptoms that suggest, osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Canada recommends that all women and men age 65 and older routinely have a bone density test to test for osteoporosis. If you are at increased risk for broken bones caused by osteoporosis, routine testing should start sooner.footnote 1 Osteoporosis Canada recommends that you and your doctor check your fracture risk using a tool such as CAROC or FRAX to help decide whether you should be screened for osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when to start bone density screening.

The FRAX tool was developed by the World Health Organization to help predict your risk of having a fracture related to osteoporosis in the next 10 years. You can use this tool. Go to the website at, and click on Calculation Tool. If you have had a bone density test on your hip, you can type in your score. If you have not had that test, you can leave the score blank.

The Canadian Association of Radiologists and Osteoporosis Canada also have a tool to help predict your risk of having a fracture in the next 10 years. This tool is online at

Most experts recommend that the decision to test younger women and men be made on an individual basis, depending on the risk of osteoporosis and whether the test results will help with treatment decisions. To help you decide whether you should be tested for osteoporosis, see:

Osteoporosis: Should I Have a Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) Test?

For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.

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  1. Papaioannou A, et al. (2010). 2010 clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in Canada: Summary. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 182(17): 1864–1873. DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.100771. Accessed October 28, 2014.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine

Current as ofNovember 20, 2015