Medications for Osteoporosis, Diet, and Osteoporosis and Exercise

Medications for Osteoporosis, Diet, and Osteoporosis and Exercise

In osteoporosis, a decrease in the mineral content of the bones leads to an increased risk of fractures, particularly in post-menopausal women. When treating osteoporosis, the aim is to reduce both the symptoms of the condition and the risk of future fractures.

Drug Treatment for Osteoporosis

After receiving a diagnosis of osteoporosis, patients are often prescribed medications, which may be divided into three broad types:

  • pain-relieving drugs
  • drugs that reduce loss of bone minerals
  • drugs that increase formation of new bone.

Pain relief is provided by standard analgesics, which may need to be taken long term in people who have secondary osteoarthritis following a fracture. A lumbar support may help reduce back pain.

The drugs most commonly given to reduce bone mineral loss are known as bisphosphonates. Several types are used in osteoporosis; they work by disrupting the cells and enzymes that absorb bone during bone remodelling. Bisphosphonates are effective in preventing fractures, but their dosing schedules are complicated and can be difficult for patients to follow correctly. Other treatments are available (e.g. hormone replacement therapy, calcitonin, calcitriol), but these are not as effective as bisphosphonates or are used only in specific situations.

Medications that increase bone formation include parathyroid hormone (PTH) and strontium ranelate. PTH is generally prescribed only for people with severe spinal osteoporosis. Strontium ranelate has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures, though how it does this is unclear. It is taken as a powder mixed with water.

Calcium Supplements

Not everyone with osteoporosis needs to take medications. In some cases, the doctor may advise simply eating a balanced diet to maintain healthy levels of calcium and vitamin D in the body. Dietary supplements of these nutrients may be needed. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplements can reduce the incidence of fractures in elderly people, though an excessive intake of vitamin D may cause other problems.

Preventing Osteoporosis

Everyone’s bones become weaker as they age. Osteoporosis can be prevented, however, by eating a balanced diet containing plenty of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods, and by taking regular exercise throughout life. Both weight-bearing exercise (e.g. running, aerobics, dancing) and resistance exercise (e.g. push-ups, gym workouts) are known to increase bone strength in younger people and reduce bone loss in the elderly. Other ways to reduce the risk of osteoporosis include stopping smoking and moderating alcohol intake.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition