Skip to content

    Osteoporosis Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Can You Reverse Osteoporosis?

    5 questions and answers about osteoporosis treatment.
    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    For many people, hearing "You have osteoporosis" is startling.

    Some hear it in the hospital after breaking a hip. Others get the news after getting a bone density test.

    Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

    Strontium Treatment for Osteoporosis

    If you are concerned about the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, one treatment you may have heard of and considered is strontium. It’s important to think about the benefits and risks of this supplement that some say improves bone health.

    Read the Strontium Treatment for Osteoporosis article > >

    Osteoporosis is most common in women after menopause, people with osteoporosis in their family, and people with a small frame. But others can also get it, raising their risk of bone fractures.

    Cutting that risk is crucial. About half of women and a quarter of men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture, notes the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Fractures most often affect the hip, spine, and wrist, but can affect any bone.

    Often, the first question patients ask their doctors is, Can I reverse osteoporosis?

    Here, bone health experts answer that and other osteoporosis questions.

    1. Can You Reverse Osteoporosis?

    Not exactly. But you may be able to curb it.

    ''Realistically, we are not talking about complete reversal," says Felicia Cosman, MD, clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and medical director at the Clinical Research Center of New York's Helen Hayes Hospital.

    "A realistic goal is to prevent fractures from occurring," says Cosman, who researches osteoporosis treatments and has consulted and spoken for the drug companies Eli Lilly, Novartis, Merck, and Amgen, which make osteoporosis drugs.

    2. So What Can I Do About Osteoporosis?

    You can make fractures less likely by maintaining or improving your bone density, Cosman says.

    That is, "you can reverse theconsequences of osteoporosis," says Robert Heaney, MD, vice president for research and professor of medicine at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. A bone biologist, Heaney has spoken for Merck and Amgen.

    Doing that typically involves being active, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and taking osteoporosis drugs.

    3. What Will Osteoporosis Drugs Do for Me?

    Depending on the state of your bones, "you can build some bone and get out of the osteoporosis range with drug therapy," says Jeri Nieves, PhD, a Columbia University associate professor of clinical epidemiology.

    "You can slow down the bone loss, [but] it's not the same as reversing it," says Nieves, who also works at New York's Helen Hayes Hospital.

    Today on WebMD

    Women working out and walking with weights
    Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
    Chinese cabbage
    Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
     
    woman stretching
    Get the facts on osteoporosis.
    Porous bone
    Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
     
    senior woman
    Article
    Woman holding plate of brocolli
    Article
     
    wrist xray
    Quiz
    Superfood for Bones
    Slideshow
     
    mature woman
    Article
    sunlight in hands
    Article
     
    man and woman in front of xray
    Quiz
    woman with dumbbells
    Article