5 Most Effective Pharmaceutical Treatments For Osteoporosis

Pharmaceutical Treatments For Osteoporosis

Women diagnosed with osteoporosis often need to take medications to prevent further bone loss and promote healthy bone production. Since osteoporosis is a chronic condition, these pharmaceutical treatments for osteoporosis have to be used over several months or years in order to reduce the risk of complications like fractures. 

Since the medications have to be used regularly, women must be aware of how the medications work and whether they cause any side effects. Additionally, the medications they choose must be effective enough to protect them against osteoporosis. [1]

In this article, you’ll learn more about the pharmaceutical treatments for osteoporosis plus the safety and effectiveness of these medications. 

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder characterized by reduced bone mineral density. The primary cause of osteoporosis is the reduced supply of calcium and vitamin D to the bones. As a result, the formation of new bone cells is affected, making the bones porous. 

The treatment and medications recommended for osteoporosis are aimed at improving the supply of these key nutrients to the body. Treatment may include supplements containing calcium or vitamin D or medications that improve the availability of these nutrients to the bones. 

The pharmaceutical treatments for osteoporosis recommendations are also based on your risk of fractures in the next 10 years as determined by your bone mineral density test. If the risk is lower, the treatment may be focused on modifying the risk factors to prevent further bone loss.

The medications are chosen to treat osteoporosis also depend on the cause of calcium deficiency.

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Effective and safe pharmaceutical treatments for osteoporosis

Here are the 5 most effective pharmaceutical treatments for osteoporosis:

1. Calcium and vitamin D supplements

Your body needs calcium and vitamin D to build bones and form new bone cells. The use of supplements containing these nutrients forms the crux of the treatment of osteoporosis. Menopausal and postmenopausal women are advised to use calcium and vitamin D supplements regularly to improve bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis. [2]

2. Bisphosphonates

Bisphosphonates are commonly prescribed to both men and women diagnosed with osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates refer to a group of drugs that help to inhibit the progress of osteoporosis by reducing bone loss. [3

There are several forms of Bisphosphonates such as Alendronate, Risedronate, Ibandronate, and Zoledronic acid. Regular use of Bisphosphonates is recommended to reduce the effect of age-related bone loss and the resulting consequences like fractures. [4]

The common side effects of these drugs include mild nausea, abdominal pain, hyperacidity, and heartburn. However, it is possible to avoid these side effects by taking the doses after food. Patients should avoid taking the doses of Bisphosphonates on an empty stomach to prevent hyperacidity and heartburn. 

Bisphosphonates can also be administered intravenously as injections. The intravenous administration of bisphosphonates is suitable for people who experience severe stomach upset from the oral doses. [5]

Most patients prefer taking bisphosphonates injections. It is easy to schedule the yearly or quarterly injections rather than to remember to take the monthly or weekly pills. 

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3. Monoclonal antibody medications

Monoclonal antibody medications such as Denosumab can help to increase bone mineral density and prevent fractures. Denosumab can be delivered via an injection under the skin twice a year, making it a convenient option for women who do not prefer taking oral medications every day. [6]

Women who plan to use Denosumab should be aware that this medication has to be continued indefinitely. Stopping the use of this drug could raise the risk of fractures in the spinal column.

Other rare side effects of Denosumab include a break in the thigh bone and delayed healing of the jawbone after any invasive dental procedure like removing a tooth. Women are advised to have a dental exam before they start using denosumab and to take proper care of their teeth to minimize the need for a dental procedure.

4. Hormone-related therapy

The loss of bone mineral density occurs in menopausal women due to hormonal imbalances. Menopausal women need to be more cautious about the risk of osteoporosis because estrogen production tends to decline during and after menopause. [7]

Estrogen plays a key role in bone formation. The lack of this hormone during and after menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis. Some treatment and medications used to improve bone health, are aimed at correcting this hormonal imbalance. [8]

Menopausal and post-menopausal women are often advised hormone replacement therapy for promoting their bone health. The therapy is aimed at improving estrogen levels to enhance the bone formation processes. 

However, hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk of endometrial cancer, blood clots, breast cancer, and heart diseases. For this reason, estrogen is used for treating osteoporosis only in younger women or when the woman develops severe menopausal symptoms that require hormone replacement treatment.

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5. Bone-building medications

The use of bone-building medications is advisable when the loss of bone mineral density is severe or when the other medications do not produce the expected results. Some of the best bone-building medications include: 

  • Teriparatide and Abaloparatide are similar to the parathyroid hormones and work by stimulating new bone growth. Teriparatide is administered as an injection under the skin to be taken daily. You can take these medications for two years after which you may use other osteoporosis medications to enhance bone health. [9]
  • Romosozumab is the newest bone-building medicine that is given as an injection once every month. The use of Romosozumab is limited to one year followed by other medications for improving bone mineral density.

Conclusion

It is important for women to take steps to prevent osteoporosis. However, if the loss of bone density has already occurred, it is advisable to seek prompt treatment to prevent further complications. 

It is possible to restore optimum bone health by using the medications mentioned above. Women are advised to use the best osteoporosis medications depending on their specific symptoms and risk factors to improve bone density and make the bones healthier and stronger. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110860/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351974
  3. https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/understanding-osteoporosis-treatment#1
  4. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmp1202619
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046542/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29113523/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC381441/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29520604/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30334479/

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