- Three reasons why you should talk with your GI about scheduling a bone density test
- What does a bone density test scan for?
- What is the procedure for a bone density test?
- Endorse The Comical Colon for the WEGO Health Awards
If you have inflammatory bowel disease, you may have become immune to the multitude of ways that IBD affects body parts that aren’t your bowels—from arthritic joints, to skin rashes, to mouth ulcers, to inflammation behind the eyes…
This stuff is old news, right?
But did you know that ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease can affect your bones too?
People with IBD have a 30-60% risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Well, there are three main reasons. And if you think even one of these aspects might be affecting you, bring it to your gastroenterologist’s attention immediately!
Even if you’re in remission and none of these seem to be affecting your quality of life, I’d still recommend you talk with your doctor for preventative measures!
3 reasons why you should talk with your GI about scheduling a bone density test:
1. If You’ve Taken Steroids for Long Periods of Time
Well, would ya look at that? It’s Prednisone coming back to haunt us, is it?
Geez, I just can’t seem to get rid of Pred. Although, yes, it can be quite handy to tame those wild flares, Prednisone (or any other steroid, for that matter) is not meant to be consumed long-term. Steroids are NOT maintenance drugs.
Over time, Prednisone and other steroids mess with the creation and maintenance of healthy bones and may lead to the bone breakage and osteoporosis.
Prednisone may be able to shut down your flare, but be sure to chat with your doctor if you’ve been on Pred for a while or if you’ve taken many bouts of it throughout your chronic illness journey. Losing bone density is no joke.
2. You’re Not Exercising Enough
If your illness is making it impossible for you to work out,
I have been completely unable to exercise. I know many of you are or have been in a similar place.
But, one day, when you have the chance…when you find remission…when you have a lower pain day…
Try to get a work out in. Weight-bearing exercises promote healthy bone development and reduce the chances of potential osteoporosis.
My bone density technician told me that weight-bearing exercises stimulate the bone marrow, and that’s how it helps grow strong bones. This National Institutes of Health article further explains that this kind of exercise forms new bone tissue, which makes bones stronger.
Recommended weight-bearing exercises include:
- Lifting weights (like my all-time fav, Tabata)
- The Stair Climber (or, you know, just walking up normal stairs)
- Hiking, walking, jogging, or running
- Many types of sports, like tennis, basketball, and soccer
Your bones will be extra happy if you do the workout outside in the sunshine 🙂 Just remember to talk with your doc before starting any workout regimen.
3. You’re Suffering From Vitamin D Deficiency
Who else’s parents used to say, “Drink your milk so you can get big and strong?” ✋🏼😂
Well, it’s true! Calcium is key to increase your bone density and prevent potential osteoporosis. However, Calcium needs adequate amounts of Vitamin D to absorb properly.
Here are three reasons why you may not be getting enough Vitamin D or absorbing Calcium correctly:
A. You’re Not Spending Enough Time Outside
Doctors recommend that everyone spend twenty minutes in the direct sunlight without sunscreen.
Since we IBD patients are naturally more prone to developing osteoporosis, it’s crucial that we strive to get these twenty minutes of Vitamin D.
I know it’s hard because some days, we physically can’t leave the house—or the bed. Some days are especially tough mentally, and we just want to stay in a dark room and sleep.
But whenever you feel up to it, aim to get those twenty minutes outside. Turn it into something enjoyable! You can talk a walk in the sunshine, read a book in the backyard, sprawl out a towel in the grass and watch Netflix on your phone...
B. You Experience Malabsorption
Malabsorption is basically the essence of Crohn’s and colitis: when our disease is flaring, it’s hard to hold food down (or up! 😆)
Whenever I’m in an ulcerative colitis flare, I basically should be eating on the toilet because my intestines just can’t process or digest anything. When food bypasses the digestive system like this, we don’t absorb the calcium or other vitamins we need.
No wonder our bones get weak during these horrendous flares! Our intestines freak out and reject the food—kinda like when Brennan and Dale toss their dad down the stairs in “Step Brothers.”
C. You’ve Had a Bowel Resection
For some people, removing some portions of the bowel is a life-saving and life-changing treatment. However, even if it reduces your symptoms or puts you in remission, it may lead to Vitamin D deficiency.
Intestines—particularly the small intestine—absorb nutrients. If you’ve had portions removed, you may be even more prone to malabsorption and the development of brittle bones.
What Does a Bone Density Test Scan For?
I had my very first bone density test yesterday. The technician explained that the machine will analyze the density of my bones and predict the likelihood of experiencing a significant break at a major joint.
This is INCREDIBLY useful information! Knowing the likelihood of a break AND what joint can help you set up a preventative plan with your medical team.
What is the Procedure for a Bone Density Test?
Before my appointment, I asked my husband if he knew what the procedure would be like.
With a completely serious face, he said, “They’ll numb the area and then drill into your bone.”
He let me freak out a bit and then told me he was joking 😆
So, in hopes to save you from your friend or significant other telling you some crazy story, let me be the first to say that it is NOT like that haha.
It’s completely non-invasive and painless.
First, the tech will make sure you’re not wearing any metal.PRO TIP: I’d suggest to wear a bra without any metal wiring. Also, wearing sweats or yoga pants will be helpful. Because if you’re wearing jeans or a belt (like I was), you’ll have to pull your pants down to your thigh level. (My guess is so that they can get a clear reading of your hips?) She wrapped me with a towel and then we got started.
You’ll lay down on your back on what resembles a hospital bed.
Then, a lamp-like thing will hover over you and move horizontally above your body.
You’ll probably be placed in a few different positions.
For a few moments, I was on my back with my legs bent in the air in a ninety-degree angle, with a large block holding them in place.
Next, I laid flat with my legs straight on the bed, and the technician turned one leg inward. It wasn’t what I’d call comfortable, but it definitely didn’t hurt!
I hope after reading this, you feel prepared for your upcoming bone density scan! 🙂 And if you don’t have one scheduled, def talk with your gastroenterologist about setting one up!
No bone drilling involved 😂
Please Endorse The Comical Colon for the WEGO Health Awards!
Endorsements end on July 28th, 2019!
P.S. Read my post here if you’re unsure what the WEGO Health Awards are all about!
Follow me on social media for more comical misadventures!