The first step in treating osteoporosis is continued testing and screening. You and your doctor will need to know if your bones are stable or if you’re continuing to lose bone mass. If you do have bone loss, your doctor may prescribe certain medication therapies.
The first type is Bisphosphonates, which slow down the process that breaks down bones. They can be taken as a pill once a day, a series of pills once a month or certain types can be delivered through an I.V. once a year. They can be used in both men and post-menopausal women, but are not recommended for premenopausal or pregnant women.
The second type is a hormone replacement therapy using Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs). These drugs are prescribed for postmenopausal women with low estrogen and used to both prevent and treat osteoporosis. One example is Raloxifene, which can lower the risk of breast cancer for some women and is taken in pill form daily.
The third type of treatment involves other hormonal approaches, such as Teriparatide which helps bone formation. They are typically for men and postmenopausal women with severe osteoporosis who are at a high risk of fractures, and is injected under the skin daily. Another hormonal approach is testosterone replacement for men and is used when osteoporosis is due to low testosterone levels.
Finally, Calcitonin can be used by both men and women, is given to slow the progression of bone loss and increase bone density, and can be given by injection or as a nasal spray for daily use.
These drug therapies work well at slowing down the process, but are not a quick fix. These drugs will be one part of an overall treatment from your doctor. You’ll also be asked to make sure you’re getting adequate calcium and vitamin D, start an exercise program and to stop bad habits, like smoking. The good news is that osteoporosis can be prevented and tracked over time. That means you and your doctor can catch it early and start treating it right away.