Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. People with osteoporosis have bones that are weak and break easily. A broken bone can really affect your life. It can cause severe pain and disability. It can make it harder to do daily tasks on your own, such as walking.
There are tests you can get to find out your bone density. This is related to how strong or fragile your bones are. One test is called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or dexa). A DXA scan takes X-rays of your bones. Screening tools also can be used to predict the risk of having low bone density or breaking a bone. Talk with your doctor or nurse about this test or tools to assess risk.
If you have osteoporosis, you may need to make some lifestyle changes and also take medicine to prevent future fractures. A calcium-rich diet, daily exercise, and drug therapy are all treatment options. These different types of drugs are approved for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis:
- Bisphosphonates — Bisphosphonates are approved for both prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Drugs in this group also can treat bone loss, and in some cases, can help build bone mass.
- SERMs — A class of drugs called estrogen agonists/antagonists, commonly referred to as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are approved for the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. They help slow the rate of bone loss.
- Calcitonin — Calcitonin is a naturally occurring hormone that can help slow the rate of bone loss.
- Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) — These drugs, which are used to treat menopausal symptoms, also are used to prevent bone loss. But recent studies suggest that this might not be a good option for many women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the following recommendations for taking MHT:
o Take the lowest possible dose of MHT for the shortest time to meet treatment goals.
o Talk about using other osteoporosis medications instead.
- Parathyroid hormone or teriparatide (terr-ih-PAR-a-tyd) — Teriparatide is an injectable form of human parathyroid hormone. It helps the body build up new bone faster than the old bone is broken down.
Your doctor can tell you what treatments might work best for you.