Osteoporosis treatment and therapy

There are a number of treatment options available to prevent, treat or slow down the progression of osteoporosis.

Specific osteoporosis treatment and therapy will be determined by a physician based on:

  • Age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Individual tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Personal preferences

The goals of osteoporosis treatment and therapy are to decrease pain, prevent fractures and minimize further bone loss. Some of the methods used in osteoporosis treatment are also the methods to help prevent it from developing, including the following:

  • Maintaining an appropriate body weight.
  • Increased walking and other weight-bearing exercises.
  • Reduction of caffeine and alcohol consumption.
  • Smoking cessation.
  • Maintain an adequate intake of calcium through diet and supplements. Vitamin D is also necessary because it facilitates the absorption of calcium.
  • Prevent falls in the elderly to prevent fractures (i.e., install hand railings, or assistive devices in the bathroom, shower, etc.).

For postmenopausal osteoporosis in women, the FDA has approved the following medications for osteoporosis treatment and to maintain bone health:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). ERT has proven to reduce bone loss, increase bone density and reduce the risk of hip and spinal fractures in postmenopausal women. However, a woman considering ERT should consult her physician, as the research conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found several important health risks associated with this therapy. For many women, the risks of ERT outweigh the benefits.
  • Alendronate sodium (Fosamax®). This medication, from a group of medications called bisphosphonates, reduces bone loss, increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.
  • Risedronate sodium (Actonel®). This medication is also from the bisphosphonate family and has similar effects as alendronate.
  • Ibandronate sodium (Boniva®). This medication is a type of bisphosphonate that is taken once a month. It may contribute to improved bone mass by slowing the loss of bone.
  • Raloxifene (Evista®). This medication is from a new group of medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) that help to prevent bone loss.
  • Parathyroid hormone (Fortéo®). This medication helps to form bone and is a form of parathyroid hormone, teriparatide, and is approved to treat postmenopausal women and men who are at high risk for fractures.