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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Osteoporosis: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment cannot eliminate osteoporosis. Certain medicines are currently approved by the FDA for treatment of osteoporosis. These medicines may slow or stop bone loss, increase bone density, and help prevent bone fractures. They include the following:

  • biphosphonates, specifically alendronate and risedronate
  • calcitonin
  • estrogen or hormone replacement therapy for women
  • selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs, specifically raloxifene
  • Parathyroid hormone, on the other hand, works by increasing bone mass rather than slowing bone loss. It is given as an injection under the skin each day. At this time, the FDA has not approved parathyroid hormone for the treatment of osteoporosis. Studies have shown that it may help prevent hip and spine fractures. Research on its effectiveness and safety continues.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Bisphosphonates can cause nausea, stomach irritation, and heartburn if not taken exactly as prescribed. SERMs can cause leg cramps, hot flashes, and occasional blood clots. HRT can cause bloating, breast tenderness, vaginal bleeding, and rarely, blood clots. Calcitonin may cause runny nose, nausea, and flushing. Parathyroid hormone can cause nausea, headache, dizziness, and leg cramps.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    After a person develops osteoporosis, treatment is lifelong. The home should be made safe to prevent accidents. Ways to increase safety include the following:

  • Don't lift heavy objects.
  • Don't use throw rugs on floors.
  • Keep all areas safe, well-lit, and uncluttered to prevent falls.
  • Take care with icy, wet, or slippery surfaces.
  • Use a cane if needed.
  • Use nonskid mats in the shower and bathtub.
  • Use proper back support and lifting methods.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that have nonslip soles.
  • Wear undergarments that have a protective pad around the hips to prevent hip fractures.
  • Intriguing new research done in older individuals with arthritis found that brisk walking or weight training improved balance in those individuals. Improved balance could very well help individuals with osteoporosis avoid hip fractures and wrist fractures from falls.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Women on HRT should have yearly physicals and pelvic examinations, mammograms, and PAP smears. Repeat DEXA bone scans may be performed yearly to see the effect of treatment on bone density. Sometimes urine tests may be done to look at bone markers every 3 months during the initial 6 to 12 months of beginning a new treatment. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Osteoporosis: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 09/13/01

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