Treatment Options for Osteoporosis

Jun 9, 2016

Treatment Options for Osteoporosis

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Osteoporosis is one of many unfortunate diseases that is mainly caused by genetic factors and cannot be cured. Prevention methods are an ideal approach for avoiding bone loss. However, prevention does not always work and traditional medicines are needed. There is a wide range of medical treatments available for osteoporosis categorized by the process of treatment. Coupled with a healthy lifestyle, osteoporosis can be effectively managed and occasionally reversed to a degree.

Treating Osteoporosis

When searching for any type of medication, keep in mind any other prescriptions or over the counter medications currently being taken for other ailments. Knowing what can and cannot be mixed with current medications to prevent overdosing or other harmful side effects is key.

Osteoporosis medications are listed under two categories: antiresorptive drugs and anabolic drugs. Bones, like the rest of the body, are regenerative. Even with increased bone loss from osteopenia or osteoporosis, bones are constantly growing and re-growing bone tissue to replace that, which was lost. The replacement process unfolds in two steps:

  1. Bone Resorption: special cells break down old bone matter creating tiny holes
  2. Bone Reformation: special cells fill the holes with new bone tissue

Antiresorptive Drugs

The purpose of osteoporosis medications is to interrupt this process and enhancing one of the steps. Antiresorptive medication slows bone loss by interrupting the bone resorption process. During an antiresorptive drug regime, bone loss will slow down stopping the quick loss of bone mass while allowing the bone reformation process to continue as normal.

This aims to achieve increased bone density over time. Because menopausal women are the number one demographic osteoporosis affects, hormone replacement is a popular and sufficient antiresorptive treatment.

Estrogen Replacement and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Categorized as antiresorptive medications, hormone, and estrogen replacement therapy is a common treatment for women with osteoporosis. Initially prescribed to treat menopause, it was discovered that the lack of estrogen from menopause was creating rapid and severe bone loss in postmenopausal women.

By replacing the lost estrogen, women are able to slow bone loss and regain bone strength and density. Because lining can build in the uterus risking uterine cancer from an increased level of estrogen, hormone replacement therapy is suggested. This type of treatment is a combination of estrogen and progesterone, which substantially reduces the risk of developing cancer.

Synthetically increasing hormones in the body does pose serious health risks such as the increased risk for multiple types of cancer. Typically, estrogen and hormone replacement therapies are recommended for women with serious potential for developing osteoporosis. 

Anabolic Drugs

Like antiresorptive medication, anabolic drugs are meant to highlight and enhance one step of the bone regeneration process. Instead of slowing the first step of bone resorption, anabolic drugs increase the rate of the bone reformation process while allowing bone resorption to function normally. Teriparatide is a form of hormone and is the only FDA-approved anabolic treatment for building bones. The treatment aims to rebuild lost bone to form stronger more dense bones with a decreased risk of breaking.

Teriparatide

Teriparatide is prescribed for both men and women experiencing osteoporosis. The treatment derived from a synthetic version of a human hormone named parathyroid hormone, which builds new bone. Teriparatide is an injection taken once a day for two years. Fortunately, teriparatide does not cause severely harmful side effects such as increased risks of cancer like that with estrogen replacement therapy.

However, it is possible a person may experience pain, cramps, dizziness or other moderate side effects. Although the teriparatide drug is efficient and has been successful, doctors recommend diet coupled with medication is key for treatment. Ensuring a large amount of calcium and vitamin D will supply your body with natural minerals, which are essential for bone reproduction. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does osteoporosis play a role in hip injuries?

Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone density and this means your bones, including your hips, can become extra fragile. Those with osteoporosis have a higher chance of injuries resulting in broken bones. Those with osteoporosis can break or fracture bones just by sneezing in some severe cases. If you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, contact your doctor to discuss which treatment options might be most appropriate for you. 

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If my mother has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, is she still able to participate in physical activities or exercise?

Your mother and her doctor should discuss what physical activities she can participate in. It will likely be recommended that she should avoid high-impact sports and activities that twist the spine or require individuals to bend forward at the waist. Common exercises for people with osteoporosis include swimming, yoga, strength training, tai chi, and other endurance types of activities. In addition to regular exercise, diet is also quite important and can help one's bones to remain strong. 

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