Osteoporosis

Frequently Asked Questions

18. What treatments are available for osteoporosis?

Several medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of osteoporosis. Since all medications have side effects, it is important to talk to your doctor about which medication is right for you.

Alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, and zoledronic acid are from a class of drugs called bisphosphonates that slow bone loss and reduce fracture risk.

Estrogen is approved for treating menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis. But because breast cancer, strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks may be increased in some women who take estrogen, women should take the lowest effective dose for the shortest period possible.

Raloxifene is approved for use in postmenopausal women. It is from a class of drugs called estrogen agonists/antagonists, commonly referred to as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). Raloxifene slows bone loss and reduces the risk of fractures in the spine.

Calcitonin is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in women who are at least 5 years past menopause. It is a hormone produced in the thyroid gland that slows bone loss and reduces the risk of spine fractures.

Teriparatide, a form of human parathyroid hormone, is approved for use in postmenopausal women and men who are at high risk of fracture. Given daily as an injection, for up to 24 months, it increases bone density and reduces the risk of spine and other fractures.

Denosumab, a rank ligand (RANKL) inhibitor, is available as an injection every six months for men and postmenopausal women.