- Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones break down faster than they rebuild.
- Treatment usually includes a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
- The most aggressive way to prevent additional bone loss is to take prescription medications
Bones in your body are living tissues that constantly break down and replace themselves with new material. With osteoporosis, your bones break down faster than they regrow. This causes them to become less dense, more porous, and more brittle.
This weakens your bones and can lead to more fractures and breaks.
There’s no cure for osteoporosis, but there are treatments to help prevent and treat it once it’s diagnosed. The goal of treatment is to protect and strengthen your bones.
Treatment usually includes a combination of medications and lifestyle changes to help slow the rate of bone breakdown by your body, and in some cases, to rebuild bone.
Most people have their highest bone mass and density when they’re in their early 20s. As you age, you lose old bone at a faster rate than your body can replace it. Because of this, older people are at a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Women also have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because they typically have thinner bones than men. Estrogen, a hormone that occurs in higher levels in women than in men, helps protect bones.
Women who are going through menopause experience a decrease in estrogen levels, which leads to more rapid bone breakdown and can result in brittle bones.
Other risks factors include:
- certain medications, such as steroids, proton pump inhibitors, and some seizure medications
- certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple myeloma.
The most aggressive way to prevent additional bone loss is to take prescription medications, such as the drugs listed below.
Bisphosphonates are the most common osteoporosis drug treatments. They’re typically the first treatments recommended for women who are postmenopausal.
Examples of bisphosphonates include:
- alendronate (Fosamax), an oral medication people take daily or once per week
- ibandronate (Boniva), available as a monthly oral tablet or as an intravenous injection that you get four times per year
- risedronate (Actonel), available in daily, weekly, or monthly doses in an oral tablet
- zoledronic acid (Reclast), available as an intravenous infusion that you get once every one or two years
There are two antibody drugs on the market.
Denosumab (Prolia) links to a protein in your body that’s involved in bone breakdown. It slows the process of bone breakdown. It also helps maintain bone density.
Denosumab comes as an injection you get every six months.
The new antibody romosozumab (Evenity) helps to increase bone formation. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April of 2019. It’s intended for postmenopausal women with a high risk of fracture. This includes women who:
- have risk factors for fracture
- have a history of fracture
- haven’t responded to or can’t take other osteoporosis drugs
Romosozumab comes as two injections. You get them once a month for up to 12 months.
Romosozumab does come with boxed warnings, which are the FDA’s most serious warnings. It may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. You shouldn’t take romosozumab if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke within the past year. Read More