The best treatment of osteoporosis is its prevention. However, once the disease has already affected you and weakened your healthy bones, it is necessary to treat it in order to prevent a further progression of the disease as well as its complications. The most well-known complications of osteoporosis are fractures that are usually the result of major or minor traumas.
Despite extensive research, there is still no outright cure that can completely alleviate osteoporosis. Nevertheless, there are several treatment options for those diagnosed with osteoporosis, and most of them involve managing the condition rather than curing it.
However, before deciding what type of medication is right for you, a number of factors need to be considered.
The main function of osteoporosis medication is to slow down bone deteriorating and maintain the bone density of the individual. This is because bone breakdown increases with age due to a decrease of synovial fluid in the joint, which puts more pressure on the bones.
Bisphosphonates are the most common medications used to treat osteoporosis. You may get either of the following trade names, but all fall under the same class of medication:
Besides bisphosphonates, hormone-like medications are also used for a similar but slightly different purpose. While bisphosphonates prevent bone breakdown, hormone-like medications increase production of oestrogen. Oestrogen is responsible for maintaining healthy bone density by stimulating the absorption of nutrients into the bone tissue. In so doing, the bones are less susceptible to breakdown than without the hormone. Raloxifene is most commonly used for this purpose and may be presented by the brand name Evista.
These hormone-like medications are the choice medication for menopausal women who may also be suffering from menopausal symptoms. However, it is still not very common because several studies have shown a link between these medications with heart attacks and other types of cancers.
There are other osteoporosis medications, too, available, and they work in a different way. Denosumab, for example, reduces the chances of osteoporotic fractures in both men and women and is a better option for those with reduced kidney function and can’t take bisphosphonates. Teriparatide, on the other hand, is reserved for those with very low bone density or who have already had osteoporotic fractures. In fact, it is the only medication with the ability to rebuild bone and perhaps reverse osteoporosis.
Before taking medication
Because these osteoporosis medications work in different ways, you will first need to be diagnosed and the following factors clearly defined:
- Your age
- Bone mineral density (measured by your T-score)
- Risk factors for fracture
There is no substitute of having healthy bones than regular physical exercises, even though some of those diagnosed with osteoporosis believe that it may lead to fractures or weakening of their bones. There is indeed some truth to that, but a properly designed exercise program may improve bone health and reduce bone breakdown. In addition, most osteoporotic fractures are caused by falls, and exercise may help to prevent that.
Maintaining a proper diet should improve your bone health immensely, and your healthcare team should recommend a proper diet for you. If possible, your doctor may even prescribe some supplements that may aid in your bone recovery if your bone density had been severely depleted.