Treatment of osteoporosis

November 12, 2012

Treatment of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects many people, both men and women and causes the bones to become weak and brittle. There are a number of treatments of osteoporosis with the most effective varying for each person.


This form of treatment of osteoporosis is generally considered to be one of the most effective for both men and women and therefore is the one most commonly prescribed and used. Examples of some bisphosphonates include alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate and zoledronic acid. Whilst effective these medications also cause some potential side effects such as:

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Inflammation of the oesophagus or oesophageal ulcers

  • Problems with the upper thighbone (rare)

  • Problems with the jawbone (rare)

They can be taken in the form of a weekly or monthly pill or alternatively patients may prefer to have a quarterly or yearly injection.

Hormone-related therapy

Women who are post menopause are more likely to start suffering from bone weakness due to osteoporosis. Hormone-related therapy is a treatment of osteoporosis that deals with this factor. When a course oestrogen is started soon following the menopause it can help to preserve bone density. Side effects of taking oestrogen include a higher risk of developing blood clots, endometrial cancer, breast cancer and even heart disease. An alternative to oestrogen is a drug called raloxifene. Taking this will provide the same benefits as taking oestrogen whilst reducing some of the risks. This drug does not increase the risk of breast cancer for example, although additional side effects may include hot flashes and the risk of blood clots is still a present side effect. Similarly men who take testosterone, as they get older can help to maintain their bone density as a form a treatment of osteoporosis.

Further treatment of osteoporosis

For those who have tried the previous methods of treatment of osteoporosis and have found them to be ineffective there are some additional treatments available that your doctor may chose to recommend:

  • Teriparatide (Forteo) is a strong drug, which uses a hormone to stimulate the growth of new bone. It is administered through the use of an injection given just under the skin. Research is still being carried out in this area, as long-term affects are not currently known.

  • Denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva) produces similar results to bisphosphonates but works in a different way. It requires an injection under the skin and can lead to back and muscle pain.

  • Calcitonin, salmon (Fortical) is produced by the thyroid gland and its function is to reduce bone loss. It is given in the form of a nasal spray but is considered to be the least effective of all the treatment of osteoporosis.

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