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OsteoporosisOsteoporosis TreatmentOsteoporosis Medication

Let's Talk About Osteoporosis Medication

You have options for treating brittle bones. Learn about the meds your doctor might prescribe and other must-knows for this journey.

    Our Pro PanelOsteoporosis Medication

    We tapped top osteoporosis experts to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Saika Sharmeen, M.D.

    Saika Sharmeen, M.D.Rheumatologist and Assistant Professor

    Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
    Stony Brook, NY
    Lara Than, M.D.

    Lara Than, M.D.Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

    Cleveland Clinic
    Weston, FL
    Kendall Moseley, M.D.

    Kendall Moseley, M.D.Medical Director

    Johns Hopkins Metabolic Bone & Osteoporosis Center
    Baltimore, MD

    Frequently Asked QuestionsOsteoporosis Medication

    What is the safest osteoporosis drug?

    No one drug stands out as the safest; all medications have side effects. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each with your physician to find the right fit for you. Typically, bisphosphonates are well tolerated and have been shown to be safe to take for up to 10 years, which is why they’re the first line of treatment for osteoporosis.

    Can osteoporosis be cured?

    There’s no cure for osteoporosis, but you can strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fracture by taking medications and making lifestyle changes. These include: boosting your calcium and vitamin D intake, doing weight-bearing exercises at least three days a week, drinking less alcohol (no more than one to two drinks a day), and if you’re a smoker, quitting.

    Will I be on osteoporosis meds for life?

    No, osteoporosis drugs are not a lifelong commitment. You can take bisphosphonates for up to 10 years, but the latest osteoporosis guidelines suggest reassessing a patient’s bone density between three and five years, and, if possible, taking a break from the drugs. Bisphosphonates linger in your bones after you stop taking them, so you have some built-in protection. RANKL agents such as Prolia can be used up to 10 years, while anabolic agents can only be given for up to two years.

    I’m scared of side effects. Can I skip the drugs?

    The risk of suffering a fracture is far greater than incurring some of the most serious side effects of medication. One in two women over age 50 will fracture a bone and fractures can be extremely painful and debilitating. Need more convincing? Consider this stat from a New York Times article: For every 100,000 women taking bisphosphonates, fewer than three will have osteonecrosis of the jaw, and only one will suffer an atypical femoral fracture. But 2,000 will have avoided an osteoporotic fracture.

    Krista Bennett DeMaio

    Krista Bennett DeMaio

    @Kbdemaio

    Krista Bennett DeMaio is a health and beauty writer living in Huntington, NY with her husband and three daughters.