7 Medications That May Reduce the Risk of Osteoporotic Fractures

As you grow older, osteoporosis becomes an increasing concern – and it’s especially common in aging women. A condition that affects the quality and density of a person’s bones, osteoporosis increases the risk of a bone fracture. Osteoporosis makes your bones far more fragile, and it causes approximately 2 million fractures and 65,000 deaths each year

Referred to as osteoporotic fractures, these cracked bones tend to occur in older adults when a minor fall, bump, or strain occurs. And they can happen during routine daily activities. If you’re worried about your risk for osteoporotic fractures, here are a few different medications that might be able to decrease your risk.

1. Calcium Supplements

If you’re concerned about osteoporotic fractures, you’ll need to fight the cause of these bone issues: bone density and strength. Calcium, along with vitamin D, can improve both of these. 

The first thing a doctor will often suggest for anyone who’s worried about osteoporotic fractures is adding calcium supplements into your diet. These supplements can build density and strengthen bones

Combining a calcium supplement with vitamin D can further help with bone health, as vitamin D aids the body as it works to process and absorb calcium. These two vitamins work hand-in-hand to battle osteoporosis.

2. Parathyroid & Teriparatide Hormones

Organically produced within four small glands in the neck, the parathyroid hormone aids in regulating calcium levels within the blood. Meanwhile, the teriparatide hormone helps bones form and decreases the chances of any broken bones. 

And together, these two hormones can help improve your bones if you’re concerned about osteoporosis or osteoporotic fractures. Hormone treatment, which can introduce one or both of these hormones back into the body, may be able to strengthen your bones.

It’s important to note that if a patient has experienced radiotherapy to their bones as part of a treatment for another condition (like cancer), then parathyroid and teriparatide hormone treatments are not advised.

3. Bisphosphonates

A group of medications used to slow down the process of bone loss, bisphosphonates (which include alendronate, etidronate, ibandronate, risedronate, and zoledronate) decrease the risk of spine and hip osteoporotic fractures. 

While bone renewal can be a long and slow journey, many people are able to enhance bone density rather quickly. Older adults often participate in bisphosphonates as a treatment for about three to five years. 

4. Denosumab

Denosumab is treatment given via injection. The medication is injected just under the skin, only two times each year. Denosumab works by blocking a protein referred to as RANK ligand. RANK is something that’s produced naturally within the body. 

However, blocking RANK will limit the activities of osteoclast cells, which aim to remove older bone material. Therefore, denosumab essentially helps anyone who’s living with osteoporosis increase his or her bone strength and mass. It’s generally recommended for women going through menopause who can’t take bisphosphonates and males who’ve developed osteoporosis due to prostate cancer treatments.

5. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy is used as a short-term osteoporosis treatment for females up to 60 years of age. It’s especially recommended for any women who have an increased risk for fractures – and any women who’ve had issues when it comes to symptoms of menopause. HRT can aid with both conditions. 

Unfortunately, there is a minor enhanced risk around ovarian and breast cancer with this treatment, as well as memory impairment, strokes, heart attack, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). 

6. Calcitonin

Calcitonin is a short-term osteoporotic fracture preventative treatment that’s used for about two to four weeks. It’s most commonly given or recommended after you’ve been immobilized due to an osteoporotic fracture. 

Calcitonin works because it helps to prevent bone loss. However, there are plenty of side effects, and they include nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flushing, headache, dizziness, musculoskeletal pain, and disturbance of taste.

7. Raloxifene

Raloxifene is a treatment that’s most commonly used for post-menopausal women females following a spine-associated osteoporotic fracture. It offers the same benefits on bones as the estrogen hormone, which means it can be a great alternative to hormone replacement therapy. 

Raloxifene also decreases chances around breast cancer. Unfortunately, there is a small risk around developing DVT, which means it is not recommended for older women. 

Reducing Your Risk of Osteoporotic Fractures Can Help Your Overall Health

While treatments and medicine can help affect your bone health and reduce osteoporotic fractures, lifestyle and nutrition can go a long way too. There are a number of ways you can work to improve your bone strength without taking medication.

You can adopt the following lifestyle changes to complement medication for osteoporotic fractures or independently to work on your bone health.

Stay Active

Getting active through exercise and regular movement will keep your body and muscles strong. Walking, swimming, and tennis are all great examples of exercise practices you can engage in.

Stop Smoking and Drinking

Avoid smoking cigarettes, as they increase bone loss rates and cause horrible health conditions such as cancer. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can reduce bone formation, leaving you with aging, weak bones. Not only will your bones thank you from refraining from bad habits, but your liver and lungs will too.

Stick to a Healthy Diet

Choosing foods that can positively affect bone health is a must for anyone who’s dealing with osteoporosis. You want to fill your diet with healthy foods that are rich in vitamin D and calcium to help strengthen your bones. Some great examples to reach for include low-fat dairy products, fatty fish, green veggies, and fruit.

Research suggests that one in four men, and one in two women over age 50 will suffer from a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. This can cause serious complications, pain, and affect mobility.

The silver lining, however, is that there are many treatments out there to help manage or prevent osteoporosis. If you think you may be at risk for this condition, then speak with your doctor for more information. Early diagnosis can be key in treatment and managing the condition to ensure you remain healthy, active, and happy.

Image Point Fr / Shutterstock

Aug 20, 2019
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