What You Need to Know about Osteoporosis Treatment

Protect your bone health against osteoporosis! This serious condition results in the loss of bone density, in which bone becomes porous and compressible, like a sponge. Mostly affecting women, osteoporosis develops in individuals over the age of 35, especially after menopause. Other risk factors include family history of the condition, smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and chronic inflammation. Patients can live with osteoporosis for years without knowing it, because the primary symptom is bone fracture. The most common areas of the body to experience injury due to this condition include wrists, hips, ribs, and spine. Unfortunately, these fractures are quite painful and can lead to diminished quality of life and lost work. Once diagnosed, however, patients can take advantage of helpful treatment options. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about osteoporosis treatment.

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  1. How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
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    Physicians diagnose this condition using x-rays, MRIs, and specialized bone density tests. This condition is usually present without symptoms, as bone density issues are noticeable when bones fracture. Bones show osteoporosis when they crack (such as with a hip fracture) or collapse.

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  2. How do medications for osteoporosis work?
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    Generally in the human body, healthy bones break down and rebuild on a regular basis. With this condition, bone break down faster and rebuilding cannot keep up, leading to porous bone and, eventually, fractures. Osteoporosis medication slows down this process to maintain bone density.

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  3. What are the most popular medications for osteoporosis treatment?
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    The most common medications used to treat osteoporosis include Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, and Reclast. These are all in a class of medications known as biophosphonates. 

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  4. Can hormones be used to treat osteoporosis?
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    Estrogen has been used as a treatment for osteoporosis, as well as a way to prevent this condition from occurring. However, doctors tend to use it in short periods of time at the lowest doses possible due to potential harmful side effects.

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  5. What are the primary side effects of taking a biophosphonate?
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    Common side effects are heart burn and upset stomach, as oral biophosphonates do not break down easily in the stomach. These medications can also be infused, with flue-like symptoms as the most common side effect.

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  6. What if patients cannot take a biophosphonate?
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    What if patients cannot take a biophosphonate? Other medications include denosumab (Prolia, Xgeva) Teriparatide (Forteo), and Abaloparatide (Tymlos). These have the potential to rebuild bone for patients who do not respond well to biophosphonates or have other unique circumstances.

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  7. What lifestyle changes can help prevent or treat osteoporosis?
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    In addition to medications, patients can help maintain their bone density by eating healthy foods each day, getting plenty of exercise, taking vitamin D and calcium supplements, and avoiding cigarettes and alcohol.

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  8. How long are biophosphonates effective in treating osteoporosis?
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    These types of medications have been shown to be safe and effective for up to 10 years of treatment, depending on the specific medication. Fortunately, the medication stays in the bone and keeps working for a long time after taking it.

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