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Osteoporosis – Prevention & Treatment

Osteoporosis is serious, but it can be prevented and treated. Here’s how.

Osteoporosis ravages twenty percent of women and 5 percent of men over age 65. Translated osteoporosis means porous bones. Other appropriate terms to describe osteoporosis include soft bones, brittle bones, spongy bones and more.

It is projected that 54 million Americans have osteoporosis. The annual costs of this disorder approaches $19 billion.

Osteoporosis predominantly attacks the wrists, hips and lower (lumbar) spine. Fractures that result from osteoporosis are termed “fragility fractures” by medical professionals. Recovery from fragility fractures is slow and frequently incomplete – meaning victims may never regain the level of health they enjoyed prior to the event. Hip replacement is often recommended following hip fractures. Lumbar spine fractures often result in permanent disabling pain. And death within one year of an osteoporotic fracture is not uncommon.

Osteoporosis is serious, but it can be prevented and treated. Here’s how.

  1. Know the risks: family history (especially mother or father), cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse (more than 3 drinks/day), chronic cortisone (e.g. Prednisone) therapy, as well as personal history of osteoporotic fracture, rheumatoid arthritis, underweight and sedentary life style.
  2. Prevention: nutritious diet; calcium, magnesium & vitamin D3 supplements; exercise most days per week (include weight training); maintain healthy weight; if you smoke, stop; limit alcohol (1 drink/day women, 2 drinks/day men).
  3. Screening: the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening all women 65 years and above and all women before 65 years if they have significant risk factors.
  4. Treatment: several exciting new medications are prescribed. Which one(s) are right for you is a discussion with your health professional. Referral to an osteoporosis specialist is often recommended. Here are some examples of available therapies.

MEDICATION

BRAND NAME

ROUTE

REGIMEN

Alendronate 

Fosamax    

Oral 

Daily or Weekly

Risedronate   

Actonel    

Oral  

Weekly

Ibandronate       

Boniva

Oral

Monthly

Ibandronate  

Boniva  

Inject 

Every 3 months

Denosumab 

Prolia 

Inject   

Every 6 months

Calcitonin 

Miacalcin  

Inject    

Various regimens

Estrogen         

Various   

Oral/Patch

Daily

Teriparatide  

Forteo   

Inject 

Daily

Raloxifene      

Evista   

Oral  

Daily

What is the preferred calcium supplement?

Research shows that supplements containing calcium citrate, vitamin D3 and magnesium citrate are preferred when it comes to bone health.

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References:

National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2018. Bone Source. Online [available at]: https://my.nof.org/bone-source Accessed April 29, 2019.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2011. Osteoporosis Screening, Online [available at]: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/osteoporosis-screening Accessed April 29, 2019.