Who Treats Osteoporosis?

Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, it can be treated. If your doctor does not specialize in osteoporosis, he or she can refer you to a specialist. There is not one type of doctor who cares for people with osteoporosis.

Many family doctors have been learning about osteoporosis and can treat people who have it. Endocrinologists, rheumatologists, geriatricians, and internists are just a few of the specialists who can provide care to people with osteoporosis.

Here is how to find an appropriate health care professional to treat osteoporosis.

The Goal of Treatment

The goal of treatment is to prevent fractures. A balanced diet rich in calcium, adequate vitamin D, a regular exercise program, and fall prevention are all important for maintaining bone health.


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.

Bisphosphonates. Several bisphosphonates are approved for the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis. These medications reduce the activity of cells that cause bone loss.

  • Side effects of taking oral bisphosphonates may include nausea, heartburn, and stomach pain, including serious digestive problems if they are not taken properly.
  • A few people have muscle, bone, or joint pain while using these medicines.
  • Side effects of intravenous bisphosphonates may include flu-like symptoms such as fever, pain in muscles or joints, and headaches. These symptoms usually stop after a few days. In rare cases, deterioration of the jawbone or an unusual type of broken bone in the femur (thigh bone) has occurred in people taking bisphosphonates.
  • The Food and Drug Administration recommends that health care professionals consider periodic reevaluation of the need for continued bisphosphonate therapy, particularly for patients who have been on bisphosphonates for longer than 5 years.

Parathyroid hormone. A form of human parathyroid hormone (PTH) is approved for postmenopausal women and men with osteoporosis who are at high risk for having a fracture. Use of the drug for more than 2 years is not recommended.

RANK ligand (RANKL) inhibitor. A RANK ligand (RANKL) inhibitor is approved for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who are at high risk for fracture

Estrogen agonists/antagonists. An estrogen agonist/ antagonist (also called a selective estrogen receptor modulator or SERM) is approved for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. SERMs are not estrogens, but they have estrogen-like effects on some tissues and estrogen-blocking effects on other tissues.

Calcitonin. Calcitonin is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in women who are at least 5 years beyond menopause. Calcitonin is a hormone involved in calcium regulation and bone metabolism.

Estrogen and Hormone Therapy. Estrogen is approved for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis in women after menopause.

  • Because of recent evidence that breast cancer, strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks may be increased in some women who take estrogen, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that women take the lowest effective dose for the shortest period possible. Estrogen should only be considered for women at significant risk for osteoporosis, and nonestrogen medications should be carefully considered first.